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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 

200 Years Together 

Russo-Jewish History 


Volume 1 - The Jews before the Revolution: 

Ch. 1 Before the 19th century (translated by R. Butlerand J. Harris) 

Ch. 2 During th e r e ign of A le xand e r I 

Ch. 3 During th e r e ign of Nicho l as I 

Ch. 4 During the period of reforms 
Ch. 5 After the murder of Alexander II 




Ch. 6 I n th e Russian r e vo l utionary mov e m e nt 

Ch. 7 Th e birth of Zionism 

Gbr-8 At the turn of the 20th century 

&Fk-9 During the Revo l ution of 1905 

Ch. 10 During th e p e riod of Duma 

Ch. 11 Th e J e wish and Russian nationa l consciousn e ss prior to Wor l d War I 

€4^42 During Wor l d War I 

Volume 2 - The Jews in the Soviet Union: 

Ch. 13 The February Revolution 98 

Ch. 14 During 1917 111 

Ch. 15 Among Bo l sh e viks 

Ch. 16 During the Civil War 136 

Ch. 17 Emigration between the two World Wars 165 

Ch. 18 In the 1920s 193 

Ch. 19 In the 1930s 251 

Ch. 20 In the camps of GULag 293 

Ch. 21 During the Soviet-German War 302 

Ch. 22 From the end of the war to Stalin's death 336 

Ch. 23 Before the Six-Day War 351 

Ch. 24 Breaking away from Bolshevism 369 

Ch. 25 Accusing Russia 382 

Ch. 26 The beginning of Exodus 399 

Ch. 27 About the assimilation. Author's afterword 417 


Chapter 1: Before the 19th century 

From the Beginnings in Khazaria 

[G13] In this book the presence of the Jews in Russia prior to 1772 will not be discussed in 
detail. However, for a few pages we want to remember the older epochs. 

One could begin, that the paths of Russians and Jews first crossed in the wars between the 
Kiev Rus and the Khazars- but that isn't completely right, since only the upper class of the 
Khazars were of Hebraic descent, the tribe itself being a branch of the Turks that had 
accepted the Jewish faith. 

If one follows the presentation of J. D. Bruzkus, respected Jewish author of the mid 20 th 
century, a certain part of the Jews from Persia moved across the Derbent Pass to the lower 
Volga where Atil [west coast of Caspian on Volga delta], the capital city of the Khazaria n 
Khanate rose up starting 724 AD. The tribal princes of the Turkish Khazars, at the time still 
idol-worshippers, did not want to accept either the Muslim faith - lest they should be 
subordinated to the caliph 
of Baghdad - nor to 
Christianity- lestthey 
come under vassalage to 
the Byzantine emperor; 
and so the clan went over 
to the Jewish faith in 732. 
But there was also a Jewish 
colony in the Bosporan 
Kingdom [on the Taman 
Peninsula at east end of 
the Crimea, separating the 
Black Sea from the Sea of 
Azov] to which Hadrian 
had Jewish captives 
brought in 137, after the 
victory over Bar-Kokhba. 
Later a Jewish settlement 
sustained itself without 
break under the Goths and Huns in the Crimea; especially Kaffa (Feodosia) remained Jewish. 
In 933 Prince Igor [912-945, Grand Prince of Kiev, successor of Oleg, regent after death of 
Riurik founder of the Kiev Kingdom in 862] temporarily possessed Kerch, and his son 
Sviatoslav [Grand Prince 960-972] [G14] wrested the Don region from the Khazars. The Kiev 
Rus already ruled the entire Volga region including Atil in 909, and Russian ships appeared at 
Samander [south of Atil on the west coast of the Caspian]. Descendents of the Khazars were 
the Kumyks in the Caucasus. In the Crimea, on the other hand, they combined with the 
Polovtsy [nomadic Turkish branch from central Asia, in the northern Black Sea area and the 
Caucasus since the 10 th century; called Cuman by western historians; see second map, 
below] to form the Crimean Tatars. (But the Karaim [a jewish sect that does not follow the 
Talmud] and Jewish residents of the Crimean did not go over to the Muslim Faith.) The 

The Khazar 
kingdom in the 
early 10th 





• G u rga nj 


• Bukhara 





Khazars were finally conquered [much later] by Tamerlane [orTimur, the 14 th century 

A few researchers however hypothesize (exact proof is absent) that the Hebrews had 
wandered to some extent through the south Russian region in west and northwest direction. 
Thus the Orientalist and Semitist Abraham Harkavy for example writes that the Jewish 
congregation in the future Russia "emerged from Jews that came from the Black Sea coast 
and from the Caucasus, where their ancestors had lived since the Assyrian and Babylonian 
captivity." J. D. Bruzkus also leans to this perspective. (Another opinion suggests it is the 
remnant of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.) This migration presumably ended after the 
conquest of Tmutarakans [eastern shore of the Kerch straits, overlooking the eastern end of 
the Crimean Peninsula; the eastern flank of the old Bosporan Kingdom] (1097) by the 
Polovtsy. According to Harkavy's opinion the vernacular of these Jews at least since the ninth 
century was Slavic, and only in the 17 th century, when the Ukrainian Jews fled from the 
pogroms of Chmelnitzki [Bogdan Chmelnitzki, Ukrainian Cossack, 1593-1657, led the 
successful Cossack rebellion against Poland with help from the Crimean Tatars], did Yiddish 
become the language of Jews in Poland. 

[G15] In various manners the Jews also came to Kiev and settled there. Already under Igor, 
the lower part of the city was called "Kosary"; in 933 Igor brought Jews that had been taken 
captive in Kerch. Then in 965 Jews taken captive in the Crimea were brought there; in 969 
Kosaren from Atil and Samander, in 989 from Cherson and in 1017 from Tmutarakan. In Kiev 
western Jews also emerged.: in connection with the caravan traffic from west to east, and 
starting at the end of the eleventh century, maybe on account of the persecution in Europe 
during the first Crusade. 

Later researchers confirm likewise that in the 11 th century, the "Jewish element" in Kiev is to 
be derived from the Khazars. Still earlier, at the turn of the 10 th century the presence of a 
"khazar force and a khazar garrison," was chronicled in Kiev. And already "in the first half of 
the 11 th century the jewish-khazar element in Kiev played "a significant roll." In the 9 th and 
10 th century, Kiev was multinational and tolerant. 

At the end of the 10 th century, in the time when Prince Vladimir [Vladimir I. Svyatoslavich 

980-1015, the Saint, Grand Prince of Kiev] was choosing a new faith for the Russians, there 
were not a few Jews in Kiev, and among them were found educated men that suggested 
taking on the Jewish faith. The choice fell out otherwise than it had 250 hears earlier in the 
Khazar Kingdom. Karamsin [1766-1826, Russian historian] relates it like this: "After he 
(Vladimir) had listened to the Jews, he asked where their homeland was. 'In Jerusalem,' 
answered the delegates, 'but God has chased us in his angerand sent us into a foreign land.' 
'And you, whom God has punished, dare to teach others?' said Vladimir. 'We do not want to 
lose our fatherland like you have.'" After the Christianization of the Rus, according to 
Bruzkus, a portion of the Khazar Jews in Kiev also went over to Christianity and afterwards in 
Novgorod perhaps one of them - Luka Zhidyata - was even one of the first bishops and 
spiritual writers. 

Christianity and Judaism being side-by-side in Kiev inevitably led to the learned zealously 
contrasting them. From that emerged the work significant to Russian literature, "Sermon on 
Law and Grace" ([by Hilarion, first Russian Metropolitan] middle 11 th century), which 


contributed to the settling of a Christian consciousness for the Russians that lasted for 
centuries. [G16] "The polemic here is as fresh and lively as in the letters of the apostles." In 
any case, it was the first century of Christianity in Russia. For the Russian neophytes of that 
time, the Jews were interesting, especially in connection to their religious presentation, and 
even in Kiev there were opportunities for contact with them. The interest was greater than 
later in the 18 th century, when they again were physically close. 

Then, for more than a century, the Jews took part in the expanded commerce of Kiev. "In the 
new city wall (completed in 1037) there was the Jews' Gate, which closed in the Jewish 
quarter." The Kiev Jews were not subjected to any limitations, and the princes did not 
handle themselves hostilely, but rather indeed vouchsafed to them protection, especially 
Sviatopolk Iziaslavich [Prince of Novgorod 1078-1087, Grand Prince of Kiev 1093-1113], 
since the trade and enterprising spirit of the Jews brought the princes financial advantage. 

In 1113, Vladimir (later called "Monomakh"), out of qualms of conscience, even after the 
death of Sviatopolk, hesitated to ascend the Kiev Throne prior to one of the Svyatoslavich's, 
and "exploiting the anarchy, rioters plundered the house of the regimental commander 
Putiata and all Jews that had stood under the special protection of the greedy Sviatopolk in 
the capital city. ... One reason for the Kiev revolt was apparently the usury of the Jews: 
probably, exploiting the shortage of money of the time, they enslaved the debtors with 
exorbitant interest." (For example there are indications in the "Statute" of Vladimir 
Monomakh that Kiev money-lenders received interest up to 50% per annum.) Karamsin 
therein appeals to the Chronicles and an extrapolation by Basil Tatistcheff [1686-1750; 
student of Peter the Great, first Russian historian]. In Tatistcheff we find moreover: 
"Afterwards they clubbed down many Jews and plundered their houses, because they had 
brought about many sicknesses to Christians and commerce with them had brought about 
great damage. Many of them, who had gathered in their synagogue seeking protection, 
defended themselves, as well as they could, and redeemed time until Vladimir would arrive." 
But when he had come, "the Kievites pleaded with him for retribution toward the [G17] Jews, 
because they had taken all the trades from Christians and under Sviatopolk had had much 
freedom and power.... They had also brought many over to their faith." 

According to M. N. Pokrovski, the Kiev Pogrom of 1113 had social and not national character. 
(However the leaning of this "class-conscious" historian toward social interpretations is well- 

After he ascended to the Kiev throne, Vladimir answered the complainants, "Since many 
[Jews] everywhere have received access to the various princely courts and have migrated 
there, it is not appropriate for me, without the advice of the princes, and moreover contrary 
to right, to permit killing and plundering them. Hence I will without delay call the princes to 
assemble, to give counsel." In the Council a law limiting the interest was established, which 
Vladimir attached to Yaroslav's "Statute." Karamsin reports, appealing to Tatistcheff, that 
Vladimir "banned all Jews" upon the conclusion of the Council, "and from that time forth 
there were none left in our fatherland." But at the same time he qualifies: "in the Chronicles 
in contrast it says that in 1124 the Jews in Kiev died [in a great fire]; consequently, they had 
not been banned." (Bruzkus explains, that it "was a whole Quarter in the best part of the 
city... at the Jew's Gate next to the Golden Gate.") 


At least one Jew enjoyed the trust of Andrei Bogoliubskii [orAndrey Bogolyubsky] in 
Vladimir. "Among the confidants of Andrei was a certain Ephraim Moisich, whose 
patronymic Moisich or Moisievich indicates his jewish derivation," and who according to the 
words of the Chronicle was among the instigators of the treason by which Andrei was 
murdered. However there is also a notation that says that under Andrei Bogoliubskii "many 
Bulgarians and Jews from the Volga territory came and had themselves baptized" and that 
after the murder of Andrei his sonGeorgi fled to a jewish Prince in Dagestan. 

In any case the information on the Jews in the time of the Suzdal Rus is scanty, as their 
numbers were obviously small. 

[G18] The "Jewish Encyclopedia" notes that in the Russian heroic songs (Bylinen) the "Jewish 
Czar" - e.g. the warrior Shidowin in the old Bylina about llya and Dobrin'a - is "a favorite 
general moniker for an enemy of the Christian faith." At the same time it could also be a 
trace of memories of the struggle against the Khazars. Here, the religious basis of this 
hostility and exclusion is made clear. On this basis, the Jews were not permitted to settle in 
the Muscovy Rus. 

The invasion of the Tatars portended the end of the lively commerce of the Kiev Rus, and 
many Jews apparently went to Poland. (Also 
the jewish colonization into Volhynia and 
Galicia continued, where they had scarcely 
suffered from the Tatar invasion.) The 
Encyclopedia explains: "During the invasion 
of the Tatars (1239) which destroyed Kiev, 
the Jews also suffered, but in the second half 
of the 13 th century they were invited by the 
Grand Princes to resettle in Kiev, which 
found itself under the domination of the 
Tatars. On account of the special rights, 
which were also granted the Jews in other 
possessions of the Tatars, envy was stirred up in the town residents againstthe Kiev Jews." 
Similar happened not only in Kiev, but also in the cities of North Russia, which "under the 
Tatar rule, were accessible for many [Moslem? see note 1] merchants from Khoresm or 
Khiva, who were long since experienced in trade and the tricks of profit-seeking. These 
people bought from the Tatars the principality's right to levy Tribute, they demanded 
excessive interestfrom poor people and, in case of their failure to pay, declared the debtors 
to be their slaves, and took away their freedom. The residents of Vladimir, Suzdal, and 
Rostov finally lost their patience and rose up together at the pealing of the Bells against 
these usurers; a few were killed and the rest chased off." A punitive expedition of the Khan 
againstthe mutineers was threatened, which however was hindered via the mediation of 
Alexander Nevsky. "In the documents of the 15 th century, Kievite [G19] jewish tax-leasers are 
mentioned, who possessed a significant fortune." 

Note l.The word "Moslem" is in the German but not French translation. I am researching 
the Russian original. 


The Judaizing Heresy 

[G19] "A migration of Jews from Poland to the East, including White Russia [Belarus], should 
also be noted in the 15 th century: there were lessers of tolls and other assessments in Minsk, 
Polotsk" and in Smolensk, although no settled congregations were formed there. After the 
short-lived banishment of jews from Lithuania (1496) the "eastward movement went forth 
with particular energy at the beginning of the 16 th century." 

The number of jews that migrated into the Muskovy Rus was insignificant although 
"influential Jews at that time had no difficulties going to Moscow." Toward the end of the 
15 th century in the very center of the spiritual and administrative power of the Rus, a change 
took place that, though barely noticed, could have drawn an ominous unrest in its wake, and 
had far-reaching consequences in the spiritual domain. It had to do with the "Judaizing 
Heresy." Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk [1439-1515] who resisted it, observed: "Since the 
time of Olga and Vladimir, the God-fearing Russian world has never experienced such a 

According to Kramsin it began thus: the Jew Zechariah, who in 1470 had arrived in Novgorod 
from Kiev, "figured out how to lead astray two spirituals, Dionisand Aleksei; he assured 
them, that only the Law of Moses was divine; the history of the Redeemer was invented; the 
Messiah was not yet born; one should not pray to icons, etc. Thus began the Judaizing 
heresy." Sergey Solovyov [1820-79; great Russian historian] expands on this, that Zechariah 
accomplished it "with the aid of five accomplices, who also were Jewish," and that this 
heresy "obviously was a mixture of Judaism and Christian rationalism that denied the 
mystery of the holy Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ." "The Orthodox Priest Aleksei 
called himself Abraham, his wife he called Sarah and along with Dionis corrupted many 
spirituals and lay... But it is hard to understand how Zechariah was able so easily to increase 
the number of his Novgorod pupils, since his wisdom consisted entirely and only in the 
rejection of Christianity and the glorification of Judaism [G20]... Probably, Zechariah seduced 
the Russians with the jewish cabbala, a teaching that captured curious ignoramuses and in 
the 15 th century was well-known, when many educated men "sought in it the solution to all 
important riddles of the human spirit. The cabbalists extol led themselves they were able... 
to discern all secrets of nature, explain dreams, prophecy the future, and conjure spirits." 

J. Gessen, a jewish historian of the 20 th century represents in contrast the opinion: "It is 
certain, that jews participated neither in the introduction of the heresy... nor its spread" (but 
with no indication of his sources). The encyclopedia of Brockhausand Efron [1890-1906, 
Russian equivalent to the 1911 Britannica] explains: "Apparently the genuinely jewish 
element played no outstanding roll, limiting its contribution to a few rituals." The "Jewish 
Encyclopedia," which appeared about the same time, writes on the other hand: "today, since 
the publication of the 'Psalter of the Judaizers' and other memorials, the contested question 
of the jewish influence on the sects must... be seen as settled in a positive sense." 

"The Novgorod heretics respected an orderly exterior, appeared to fast humbly and 
zealously fulfilled all the duties of Piety," they "made themselves noticed by the people and 
contributed to the rapid spreading of the heresy." When after the fall of Novgorod Ivan 
Vassilyevich III [1440-1505, English name would be "John son of Basil," Grand Prince of 
Moscoy, united the greater Russian territory under Moscow's rule] visited the city, he was 


impressed by their Piety and took both of the first heretics, Aleksei and Dionis, to Moscow in 
1480 and promoted them as high priests of the Assumption of Mary and the Archangel 
cathedrals of the Kremlin. "With them alsothe schismwas brought over, the roots of which 
remained in Novgorod. Aleksei found special favorwith the ruler and had free access to him, 
and with his Secret Teaching" enticed not only several high spirituals and officials, but 
moved the Grand Prince to appoint the archimandrite [=head abbot in Eastern Orthodoxy] 
Zossima as Metropolitan, that is, the head of the entire Russian church - a man from the 
very circle of the those he had enticed with the heresy. In addition, he enticed Helena to the 
heresy — daughter-in-law of the Grand Prince, widow of Ivan the [G21] Younger and mother 
of the heir to the throne, the "blessed nephew Dimitri." 

The rapid success of this movement and the ease with which it spread is astonishing. This is 
obviously to be explained through mutual interests. "When the 'Psalter of the Judaizing' and 
other works — which could mislead the inexperienced Russian reader and were sometimes 
unambiguously antichristian - were translated from Hebrew into Russian, one could have 
assumed that only Jews and Judaism would have been interested in them." But also "the 
Russian reader was... interested in the translations of jewish religious texts" - and this 
explains the "success, which the propaganda of the 'Judaizing' had in various classes of 
society." The sharpness and liveliness of this contact reminds of that which had emerged in 
Kiev in the 11 th century. 

The Novgorod Archbishop Gennadi uncovered the heresy in 1487, sent irrefutable proofs of 
it to Moscow, hunted the heresy out and unmasked it, until in 1490 a church Council 
assembled to discuss the matter, under leadership of the just-promoted Metropolitan 
Sossima. "With horror they heard the complaint of Gennadi, ... that these apostates insult 
Christ and the mother of God, spit on the cross, call the icons idolatrous images, bite on 
them with their teeth and throw them into impure places, believe in neither the kingdom of 
Heaven nor the resurrection of the dead, and entice the weak, while remaining quiet in the 
presence of zealous Christians." "From the Judgment [of the Council] it is apparent, that the 
Judaizers did not recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God, that they taught, the Messiah is 
not yet appeared, that they observe the Old Testament Sabbath day rather then the 
Christian Sunday." It was suggested to the Council to execute the heretics but, in accordance 
with the will of Ivan III, they were sentenced instead to imprisonment and the heresy was 
anathematized. "In view of the coarseness of the century and the seriousness of the moral 
corruption, such a punishment was [G22] extraordinarily mild." The historians unanimously 
explain this hesitation of Ivan in that the heresy had already spread widely under his own 
roof and was practiced by well-known, influential people," among whom was Feodor 
Kuritsyn, Ivan's plenipotentiary Secretary (so to speakthe "Foreign Minister"), "famous on 
account of his education and his capabilities." "The noteworthy liberalism of Moscow flowed 
from the temporary 'Dictator of the heart' F. Kuritsyn. The magic of his secret salon was 
enjoyed even by the Grand Prince and his daughter-in-law... The heresy was by no means in 
abatement, but rather... prospered magnificently and spread itself out. At the Moscow 
court... astrology and magic along with the attractions of a pseudo-scientific revision of the 
entire medieval worldview" were solidly propagated, which was "free -thinking, the appeal of 
enlightenment, and the power of fashion." 


The Jewish Encyclopedia sets forth moreover that Ivan III "out of political motivations did not 
stand against the heresy. With Zechariah's help, he hoped to strengthen his influence in 
Lithuania," and besides that he wanted to secure the favor of influential jews from the 
Crimea: "of the princes and rulers of Taman Peninsula, ZachariasdeGhisolfi," and of the jew 
Chozi Kokos, a confidant of the Khan Mengli Giray [orGirai]. 

After the Council of 1490 Sossima continued to sponsor a secret society for several years, 
but then was himself discovered, and in 1494 the Grand Prince commanded him to depose 
himself without process and to withdraw into a cloister, without throwing up dust and to all 
appearances willingly. "The heresy however did not abate. For a time (1498) its votaries in 
Moscow seized almost all the power, and theircharge Dmitrii, the Son of the Princess Helena, 
was coronated as Czar." Soon Ivan III reconciled himself with his wife Sophia Palaiologos, 
and in 1502 his son Vassili inherited the throne. (Kurizyn by this time was dead.) Of the 
heretics, after the Council of 1504, one part was burned, a second part thrown in prison, and 
a third fled to Lithuania, "where they formally adopted the Mosaic faith." 

It must be added that the overcoming of the Judaizing Heresy gave the spiritual life of the 
Muscovy Rus at turn of the 16 th century a new impetus, and contributed to recognizing the 
need for spiritual education, for schools for the Spiritual; and the name of Archbishop 
Gennadi is associated with the collecting and [G23] publication of the first church-slavic Bible, 
of which there had not to that point been a consolidated text corpus in the Christian East. 
The printing press was invented, and "after80 years this Gennadi Bible... was printed in 
Ostrog (1580/82) as the first church-slavic Bible; with its appearance, it took over the entire 
orthodox East." Even academy member S. F. Platonov gives a generalizing judgment about 
the phenomenon: "The movement of judaizing no doubt contained elements of the West 
European rationalism... The heresy was condemned; its advocates had to suffer, but the 
attitude of critique and skepticism produced by them over against dogma and church order 

Today's Jewish Encyclopedia remembers "the thesis that an extremely negative posture 
toward Judaism and the Jews was unknown in the Muskovy Rus up to the beginning of the 
16 th century," and derives it from this struggle against the Judaizers. Judging by the spiritual 
and civil measures of the circumstances, that is thoroughly probable. J. Gessen however 
contends: "it is significant, that such a specific coloring of the heresy as Judaizing did not 
lessen the success of the sects and in no way led to the development of a hostile stance 
toward the Jews." 

You're in; no, you're out. Okay, you're in 

[G23] Judging by its stable manner of life, it was in neighboring Poland that the biggest 
jewish community emerged, expanded and became strong from the 13 th to the 18 th century. 
It formed the basis of the future Russian jewry, which became the most important part of 
World jewry until the 20 th century. Starting in the 16 th century "a significant number of 
Polish and Czech Jews emigrated" into the Ukraine, White Russia and Lithuania. In the 15 th 
century jewish merchants traveled still unhindered from the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom to 
Moscow. But that changed under Ivan [IV] the Terrible: jewish merchants were forbidden 


entry- When in 1550 the Polish King Sigismund August desired to permit them free entry 
into Russia, this was denied by Ivan with these words: "We absolutely do not permit the 
entry of the Jew into my lands, because we do not wish to see evil in our lands, but rather 
may God grant that the people in my land may have rest from that irritation. And you, our 
brother, should not write us on account of the jews again," forthey had "alienated the 
Russians from [G24] Christianity, brought poisonous plants into our lands and done much 
evil to our lands." 

According to a legend, Ivan IV [the Terrible], upon the annexation of Polotsk in 1563, 
ordered all jews to be baptized in response to complaints of Russian residents "against evil 
things and bullying" by jews, leasers and others empowered by Polish magnates. Those that 
refused, apparently about 300 persons, are supposed to have been drowned in his presence 
in the Dvina. But careful historians, as e.g. J. I. Gessen, do not confirm this version even in 
moderated form and do not mention it once. 

Instead of that, Gessen writes that under the False Dimitry I (1605/06) both jews and other 
foreigners "in relatively large number" were baptized in Moscow. The story goes according 
to "In the Time of Troubles" [by Sergey Ivanov, regarding the 15-year period 1598-1613 of 
confusion following the failed Rurik Dynasty] that the False Dimitry II (the "Thief of 
Tushino") was "born a Jew." (The sources give contradictory information regarding the 
ancestry of "the Thief of Tushino.") 

[Sozhenitsyn relates that after the "Time of Troubles," jews, like Polish-Lithuanian folk in 
general had restricted rights in Russia. [G25] There was prohibition of peddling in Moscow, 
or to travel beyond Moscow at all. But ordinances were contradictory. 

[Mikhail Feodorovich (Michael son of Theodore; 1613 became first Romanov chosen as czar) 
did not pursue a principial policy against Jews. 

[Alexis Michaelovitch (Alex son of Michael; czar 1645). No sign of discrimination against 
jews in the law book; free access granted to all cities including Moscow. During the seizure 
of Lithuania, as well as later wars, treatment of Jews in captivity was not worse than other 

[After the Treaty of Andrusovo (1667) (in which Smolensk, Kiev and the whole eastern bank 
of the Dnieper River remained Russian) jews were invited to stay, and many did. Some 
converted to Christianity and some of these became heads of noble families. A small number 
of baptized migrated to a Cossack village on the Don and a dozen Cossackfamilies 
descended from them. Samuel Collins, an Englishman residing in Moscow at the time, 
related that "in a short time, the Jews have in a remarkable way spread through the city and 
court, helped by the mediation of a Jewish surgeon." 


[Feodor III, son of Alexis (Theodore, 1676 czar]. Jews not to be assessed toll on entry to 
Moscow, because they are not allowed in, whether with or without wares. But the practice 
did not correspond to the theory. 

[In the first year of Peter the Great, doors were opened to talented foreigners, but not jews 
on account of their being "rogues and deceivers." Yet there is no evidence of limitations 
imposed on them, nor special laws. Indeed, jews were found close to the Emperor: 

• Vice-chancellor Baron Peter Shafirov 

• close confidant Abram Veselovsky, later accused of thieving 

• his brother, Isaac Veselovsky 

• Anton de Vieira, general police master of Petersburg 

• Viviere, head of secret police 

and others. To A. Veselovsky, Peter wrote that what matters is competence and decency, 
not baptism or circumcision. 

[Jewish houses in Germany inquired whether Russia would guarantee their commerce with 
Persia, but never received it. 

[At start of 18 th century there was increased jewish trade activity in Little Russia (=Ukraine), 
[G27] a year before Russian merchants got the right. Hetman (Ukrainian chief) Skoropadski 
gave order several times for their expulsion but this was not obeyed and jewish presence 
actually increased. 

[Catherine I (1724 Czarina) decreed removal of jews from Ukraine and Russian cities; but 
only lasted one year. 

[Peter II (Czar 1727) permitted jews into Little Russia, first as "temporary visits" on the 
ground of their usefulness for trade, then, more and more reasons found to make it 
permanent. Under Anna (1730 Czarina), this right was extended to Smolensk and Slobodsky. 
In 1734 permission was given to distil brandy, and in 1736 it was permitted to import vodka 
from Poland into Russia. 

[Baltic financier Levy Lipman probably bailed out the future czarina Anna financially while 
she was living in Courland. [G28] Later, he achieved a high rank in her court in financial 
administration, and received various monopoly rights.] 


Elisabeth [1741 czarina] however issued a 
Ukase [imperial Russian decree] one year 
after taking the throne (Dec 1742): "Jews are 
forbidden to live anywhere in our realm; 
now it has been made known to us, that 
these jews still find themselves in our realm 
and, under various pretexts, especially in 
Little Russia, they prolong their stay, which is 
in no way beneficial; but as we must expect 
only great injuries to our loyal subjects from 
such haters of the name of our Savior Jesus 
Christ, [G29] we order: all jews, male and 
female, along with their entire possession, to 
be sent without delay from our realm, over 
the border, and in the future not allowed 
back in, unless it should be that one of them 
should confess our Greek-Christian religion." 

This was the same religious intolerance that shook Europe for centuries. The way of thinking 
of that time was not unique in any special Russian way, nor was it an exclusively jew-hostile 
attitude. Among Christians the religious intolerance was not practiced with any less cruelty. 
Thus, the Old Believers, i.e. men of the same orthodox faith, were persecuted with fire and 

This Ukase of Elisabeth "was made known throughout the realm. But immediately attempts 
were made to move the Ruler to relent." The military chancellor reported to the Senate from 
the Ukraine that already 140 people were evicted, but that "the prohibition for jews to bring 
goods in would lead to a reduction in state income." The Senate reported to the Czarina that 
"trade had suffered great damage in Little Russia as well as the Baltic provinces by the Ukase 
of the previous year to not allow jews into the realm, and also the state burse would suffer 
by the reduction of income from tolls." The czarina answered with the resolution: "I desire 
no profit from the enemies of Christ." 

[Sozhenitsyn discusses contradictory sources as to the number of jews that were actually 
evicted, ranging from almost none, to 35,000, the latter figure having questionable origins; 
[G30] strong resistance to the edict by jews, land proprietors and the state apparatuses 
meant it was enforced almost as little as previous attempts had been. 


[(G31) Catherine II, Czarin 1762 in consequence of a coup, and also being a neophyte to 
Orthodoxy herself, was unwilling to start her reign opening things up for jews, though the 
Senate advised for it. Jews pressed for it and had spokesmen in Petersburg, Riga, and 
Ukraine. [G32] She found a way around her own law 
in permitting their entry for colonization into "New 
Russia" [area between Crimea and Moldavia], which 
was still a wasteland. Was organized secretly from 
Riga, and the nationality of the jews was kept more 
or less secret. Jews went there from Poland and 

[In the first Partition of Poland, 1772, Russia reacquired White Russia (Belarus) along with 
her 100,000 jews.] 

After the 11 th century more and more jews came into Poland because princes and later, 
kings encouraged "all active, industrious people" from western Europe to settle there. Jews 
actually received special rights, e.g. in 13 th c, from Boleslavthe Pious; in 14 th c, from Kasimir 
the Great; in 16 th c, from Sigismund I and Stephan Bathony; though this sometimes 
alternated with repression, e.g. in 15 th c, by Vladislav Yagiello and Alexander, son of Kasimir: 
there were two pogroms in Krakow. In 16 th c several ghettos were constructed partly to 
protect them. The Roman Catholic spirituals were the most continuous source of a hostile 
stance. Nevertheless on balance it must have been a favorable environment, since in first 
half of 16 th c. [G33] the jewish population increased substantially. There was a big role for 
jews in the business activity of landlords in that they became leasers of the brandy distilling 

After the Tater devastation, Kiev in the 14 th c. came under Lithuania and/or Poland, and in 
this arrangement "more and more jews wandered from Podolia and Volhynia into the 
Ukraine," in the regions of Kiev, Poltava, and Chernigov. This process accelerated when a 
large part of Ukraine came directly under Poland in the Union of Lublin, 1569. The main 
population consisted of orthodox peasants, who for a long time had had special rights and 
were free of tolls. Now began an intensive colonization of the Ukraine by the polish Szlachta 
(Polish nobility) with conjoint action by the jews. "The Cossacks were forced into immobility, 
and obligated to perform drudgery and pay taxes... The Catholic lords burdened the 
orthodox peasants with various taxes and service duties, and in this exploitation the jews 
also partly played a sad role." They leased from the lords the "propination," i.e. the right to 
distil vodka and sell it, as well as other trades. "The jewish leasers, who represented the 
Polish lord, received - of course only to a certain degree - the power that the landholder 
had over the peasants; and since the jewish leasers... strove to wring from the peasants a 
maximum profit, the rage of the peasants rose not only against the Catholic landlords but 
alsoagainstthe jewish leasers. When from this situation a bloody uprising of the Cossacks 


arose in 1648 under leadership of Chmelnitsky, Jews as well as Poles were the victims" - 
10,000 jews died. 

The jews were lured in by the natural riches of the Ukraine and by polish magnates that 
were colonizing the land, and thus assumed an important economic role. Since they served 
the interests of the landlords and the regime... the jews brought on themselves the hatred of 
the residents." N. I. Kostomarov adds that the jews leased not only various branches of the 
privileged industries but even the orthodox churches, gaining the right to levy a fee for 
ba ptisms. 

After the uprising, the "jews, on the basis of the Treaty of BelaiaTserkov (1651) were again 
given the right to resettle in the Ukraine... The Jews were like before resident and leaserof 
the royal industries and the industries of the Szlachta, and so it was to remain." 

"Going into the 18 th c. brandy distilling was practically the main profession of jews." "This 
trade often led to conflicts with the peasants, who sometimes were drawn into the taverns 
not so much because well-to-do, but on account of their poverty and misery." 

Included among the restrictions placed on the Polish jews in response to demands of the 
Catholic church was the prohibition against jews having Christian house-servants. 

[G34] Because of the recruitment coupled with the state tax increases in neighboring Russia, 
not a few refugees came to Poland, where they had no rights. In the debates of Catherine's 
commission for reworking a new Law code (1767/68), one could hear that in Poland "already 
a number of Russian refugees are servants to jews." 

The Kahal and Civil Rights 

[G34] The jews of Poland maintained a vigorous economic relation to the surrounding 
population, yet in the five centuries that they lived there, did not permit any influence from 
outside themselves. One century after another rolled by in post-medieval European 
development, while the Polish jews remained confined to themselves, and were always an 
anachronistic appearance. They had a fixed order within themselves. (Here it is granted, that 
these conditions, which later remained intact also in Russia until the middle of the 19 th 
century, were favorable for the religious and national preservation of the jews from the very 
beginning of their Diaspora.) The whole jewish life was guided by the Kahal, which had 
developed from the communal life of the jews, and the Rabbis. [The Kahal, pi. Kehilot was 
the autonomous organization of the leadership of the jewish congregations in Poland.] 

[Solzhenitsyn relates that the Kahal was a buffer between polish authorities and jewish 
people; collected the taxes for example. Took care of the needy and also regulated jewish 
commerce, approved resales, purchases, and leases. Adjudicated disputes between jews, 
which could not be appealed to the secular legal system without incurring the ban (herem). 


What may have started as a democratic institution took on the qualities of an oligarchy bent 
on maintaining its own power. In turn, the rabbis and Kahal had a mutually exploitative 
relation, in that the rabbis were the executive enforcement arm of the Kahal, and the rabbis 
owed their position to appointment by the Kahal. Likewise, the Kahal owed the maintenance 
of its power more to the secular regime than to its own people. 

[Toward end of 17 th century and through 18 th century, the country was torn by strife; the 
magnates' arbitrariness increased further. Jews became poor and demoralized, and 
hardened in early Middle-age forms of life. [G35] "They became child-like or better: childish 

[16 th century jewish spiritual rulers were concentrated in German and Polish jewry. They put 
barriers up against contact with outsiders. The rabbinate held the jews in firm bondage to 
the past.] 

The fact that the jewish people have held themselves together in their diaspora for 2,000 
years inspires wonder and admiration. But when one examines certain periods more closely, 
as e.g. the Polish/Russian one in the 16 th and into the middle of the 17 th century, and how 
this unity was only won by means of methods of suppression exercised by the Kehilot, then 
one no longer knows if it can be evaluated merely as an aspect of religious tradition. If the 
slightest trace of such isolationism were detected amongst us Russians, we would be 
severely faulted. 

When jewry came under the rule of the Russian state, this indigenous system remained, in 
which the hierarchy of the Kahal had a self-interest. According to J. I. Gessen, all the anger 
that enlightened jews felt against the ossifying Talmudic tradition became stronger in the 
middle of the 19 th century: "The representatives of the ruling class of jewry staked 
everything on persuading the [Russian] administration of the necessity to maintain this 
centuries-old institution, which reflected the interests both of the Russian power and of the 
ruling jewish class"; "the Kahal in connection with the Rabbis held all the power and not 
seldom, abused it: it misappropriated public funds, trampled the rights of the poor, 
arbitrarily increased taxes and wreaked vengeance on personal enemies." At the end of the 
18 th century the Governor of one the administrative regions attached to Russia wrote in his 
report: "The rabbis, [G36] the spiritual Council and the Kahal, 'which are knitted closely 
together, hold all things in their hand and lord it over the conscience of the jews, and in 
complete isolation rule over them, without any relation to the civil order.'" 

In 18th century Eastern European jewry two movements developed: the religious one of the 
Hassidim [or Hasidim, or Chasidim] and the enlightening one favoring secularculture, 
spearheaded by Moses Mendelsohn; but the Kehiloth suppressed both with all its might. In 
1781 the Rabbinate of [Lithuanian] Vilna placed the ban over the Hassidim and in 1784 the 
Assembly of Rabbis in [White Russian] Mogilev declared them as "outlaws and their 


property as without owner. Thereafter mobs laid waste to the houses of Hassidim in several 
cities," i.e. it was an intra-jewish pogrom. The Hassidim were persecuted in the most cruel 
and unfair manner; their rivals did not even feel embarrassed to denounce them before the 
Russian authorities with false political charges. In turn, the officials in 1799, based on the 
complaint of Hassidics, arrested members of the Kehilot of Vilna for embezzlement of tax 
money. The Hassidim movement expanded, being especially successful in certain provinces. 
The rabbis had hassidic books publicly burned and the Hassidim emerged as defenders of the 
people against abuses of the Kehilot. "It is apparent that in those times the religious war 
overshadowed other questions of 
religious life." 

The part of White Russia that fell to 
Russia in 1772 consisted of the 
Provinces of Polotsk (later Vitebsk) and 
Mogilev. In a communique to those 
governments in the name of Catherine 
it was explained that their residents 
"of whichever sex and standing they 
might be" would from now on have 
the right to public exercise of faith and 
to own property in addition to "all 
rights, freedoms and privileges which 
their subjects previously enjoyed." The 
jews were thus legally set as equals to Christians, which had not been the case in Poland. As 
to the jews, it was added that their businesses "stay and remain intact with all those rights 
that they today.. .enjoy" - i.e. nothing would be taken away from Polish rights either. 
Through this, the previous power of the Kehilot survived: the jews with their Kahal system 
remained isolated from the rest of the population and were not immediately taken into the 
class of traders and [G37] businessmen that corresponded to their predominant occupations. 

In the beginning, Catherine was on her guard not only against any hostile reaction of the 
Polish nobility, from whom power threatened to slip away, but also against giving an 
unfavorable impression to her Orthodox subjects. But she did extend wider rights to the 
jews, whom she wished well and promised herself of their economic utility to the nation. 
Already in 1778 the most recent general Russian regulation was extended to White Russia: 
those holding up to 500 Rubles belonged to the class of trade-plying townsmen; those with 
more capital, to the class of merchant, endowed into one of three guilds according to 
possession: both classes were free of the poll tax and paid 1% of their capital which was 
"declared according to conscience." 

This regulation was of particularly great significance: it set aside the national isolation of 
jews up to that time -Catherine wanted to end that. Further, she subverted the traditional 


Polish perspective on jews as an element standing outside the state. Moreover, she 
weakened the Kahal system, the capability of the Kahal to compel. "The process began of 
pressing jews into the civil organism... The jews availed themselves to a great extent of the 
right to be registered as merchants" - so that e.g. 10% of the jewish population in the 
Mogilev Province declared themselves as merchants (but only 5.5% of the Christians). The 
jewish merchants were now freed from the tax obligation to the Kahal and did not have to 
apply to the Kahal any more for permission to be temporarily absent - they had only to deal 
with the cognizant magistrate. (In 1780 the jews in Mogilev and Shklov greeted Catherine 
upon her arrival with odes.) 

With this advance of jewish merchants the civil category "jew" ceased to exist. All other jews 
had now likewise to be assigned to a status, and obviously the only one left for them was 
"townsmen." But at first, few wanted to be reclassified as such, since the annual poll tax for 
townsmen at that time was 60 kopecks but only 50 kopecks for "jews." However, there was 
no other option. From 1783, neither the jewish townsmen [G38] nor merchants needed to 
pay their taxes to the Kahal, but instead, to the magistrate, each according to his class, and 
from him they also received their travel passes. 

The new order had consequences for the cities, which only took status into consideration, 
not nationality. According to this arrangement, all townsmen (thus: also all jews) had the 
right to participate in the local class governance and occupy official posts. "Corresponding to 
the conditions of that time this meant that the jews became citizens with equal rights... The 
entry of jews as citizens with equal right into the merchant guilds and townsmen class was 
an event of great social significance," it was supposed to "transform the jews into an 
economic power that would have to be reckoned with, and raise their morale." It also made 
the practical protection of their life-interests easier." At that time the classes of traders and 
tradesmen just like the municipal commonwealth had a broad self-determination. ..Thus, a 
certain administrative and judicial power was placed into the hands of jews just like 
Christians, through which the jewish population held a commercial and civil influence and 
significance." Jews could now not only become mayors but also advisory delegates and 
judges. At first limitations were enacted in the larger cities to ensure that no more jews 
occupied electable positions than Christians. In 1786 however "Catherine sent... to the 
Governor General of White Russia a command written by her own hand: to actualize the 
equality of jews 'in the municipal-class self-governance ... unconditionally and without any 
hesitation' and 'to impose an appropriate penalty upon anyone that should hinder this 


It should be pointed out that the jews thus were given equal rights not only in contrast to 
Poland, but also earlier than in France or the German states. (Under Frederick the Great the 
jews suffered great limitations.) Indeed: the jews in Russia had from the beginning the 

personal freedom that the Russian peasants were only 
granted 80 years later. Paradoxically, the jews gained greater 
freedom than even the Russian merchants and tradesmen. 
The latter had to live exclusively in the cities, while in 
contrast the jewish population could "live in colonizations in 
the country and distill liquor." "Although the jews dwelled in 
clusters [G39] not only in the city but also in the villages, 
they were accounted as part of the city contingent- 
inclusive of merchant and townsmen classes." "According to 
the manner of their activity and surrounded by unfree 
peasantry they played an important economic roll. Rural 
trade was concentrated in their hands, and they leased 
various posts belonging to the landowners' privilege - 
specifically, the sale of vodka in taverns - and therewith 
fostered "the expansion of drunkenness." The White-Russian powers reported: "The 
presence ofjewsinthe villages acts with harm upon the economic and moral condition of 
the rural population, because the jews... encourage drunkenness among the local 
population." "In the stance taken by the powers -that-be, it was indicated among other 
things that the jews led the peasants astray with drunkenness, idleness and poverty, that 
they had given them vodka on credit etc. [reception of pledges for vodka]." But "the brandy 
operations were an attractive source of income" for both the Polish landowners and the 
jewish commissioners. 

Granted, the gift of citizenship that the Jews received brought a danger with it: obviously the 
jews were also supposed to acquiesce to the general rule to cease the brandy business in the 
villages and move out. In 1783 the following was published: "The general rule requires every 
citizen to apply himself in a respectable trade and business, but not the distilling of schnapps 
as that is not a fitting business,' and whenever the proprietor 'permits the merchant, 
townsman or jew' to distill vodka, he will be held as a law-breaker." And thus it happened: 
"they began to transfer the jews from the villages to the cities to deflect them from their 
centuries-old occupation ... the leasing of distilleries and taverns." 

Naturally, to the jews the threat of a complete removal from the villages naturally appeared 
not as a uniform civil measure, but rather as one that was set up specially to oppose their 
national religion. The jewish townsmen that were supposed to be resettled into the city and 
unambiguously were to be robbed of a very lucrative business in the country, fell into an 
inner-city and inner-jewish competition. Indignation grew among the jews, and in 1784 a 
commission of the Kehilot traveled to St Petersburg to seek [G40] the cancellation of these 
measures. (At the same time the Kehilot reasoned that they should, with the help of the 


administration, regain their lost power in its full extent over the jewish population.) But the 
answer of the czarina read: "As soon as the people yoked to the jewish law have ... arrived at 
the condition of equality, the Order must be upheld in every case, so that each according to 
his rank and status enjoys the benefits and rights, without distinction of belief or national 

But the clenched power of the Polish proprietors also had to be reckoned with. Although the 
administration of White Russia forbad them in 1783 to lease the schnapps distilling "to 
unauthorized person, 'especiallyjews'... the landlords continued to lease this industry to 
jews. That was their right," an inheritance of centuries -old Polish custom. 

The Senate did not venture to apply force against the landholders and in 1786 removed their 
jurisdiction to relocate jews into cities. For this a compromise was found: The jews would be 
regarded as people that had relocated to the cities, but would retain the right to temporary 
visits to the villages. That meant that those that were living in the villages continued to live 
there. The Senate permission of 1786 permitted the jews to live in villages and "jews were 
allowed to lease from the landholders the right to produce and sell alcoholic beverages, 
while Christian merchants and townsmen did not obtain these rights." 

Even the efforts of the delegation of Kehilot in St Petersburg was not wholly without success. 
They did not get what they came for -the establishment of a separate jewish court for all 
contentions between jews - but in 1786 a significant part of their supervisory right was given 
back: the supervision of jewish townsmen i.e. the majority of the jewish population. This 
included not only the division of public benefits but also the levying of poll tax and 
adjudicating the right to separate from the congregation. Thus, the administration 
recognized its interest in not weakening the power of the Kahal. 

In all Russia, the status of traders and businessmen (merchants and townsmen) did not have 
the right to choose [G41] their residences. Their members were bound to that locality in 
which they were registered, in order that the financial position of their localities would not 
be weakened. However, the Senate made an exception in 1782 for White Russia: The 
merchants could move "as the case might be, as it was propitious for commerce" from one 
city to another. The ruling favored especially the jewish merchants. 

However, they began to exploit this right in a greater extent than had been foreseen: 
"Jewish merchants began to be registered in Moscow and Smolensk." "Jews began soon 
after the annexation of White Russia in 1882 to settle in Moscow.... By the end of the 18 th 
century the number of jews in Moscow was considerable.... Some jews that had entered the 
ranks of the Moscow merchant class began to practice wholesaling... other jews in contrast 
sold foreign goods from their apartments or in the courts, or began peddling, though this 
was at the time forbidden." 


In 1790 the Moscow merchants submitted a complaint: "In Moscow has emerged 'a not 
insignificant number of jews' from foreign countries and from White Russian who as 
opportunity afforded joined the Moscow merchant guilds and then utilized forbidden 
methods of business, which brought about 'very hurtful damage,' and the cheapness of their 
goods indicated that it involved smuggling, but moreover as is well-known they cut coins: it 
is possible, that they will also do this in Moscow." As amends to "their thoroughly cagey 
findings," the Moscow merchants demanded their removal from Moscow. Thejewish 
merchants appealed with "a counter-complaint... that they were not accepted into the 
Smolensk and Moscow merchant guilds." 

The "Council of her Majesty" heard the complaints. In accordance with the Unified Russian 
Order, she firmly established that the jews did not have the right "to be registered in the 
Russian trading towns and harbors," but only in White Russia. "By no means is usefulness to 
be expected" from the migration of jews into Moscow . In December 1791 she promulgated 
a highest-order Ukase, which prohibited jews "to join the merchant guilds of the inner 
Provinces," but permitted them "for a limited time for trade reasons to enter Moscow." 
[G42] Jews were allowed to utilize the rights of the merchant guild and townsman class only 
in White Russia. The right to permanent residency and membership in the townsman class, 
Catherine continued, was granted in New Russia, now accessible in the viceregencies of 
Yekaterinoslav ["Glory of Catherine the Great"; much later, name changed to 
Dnepropetrovsk] andTaurida (shortly thereafter these became the Provinces of 
Yekaterinoslav, Taurida, and Cherson); that is, Catherine allowed jews to migrate into the 
new, expansive territories, into which Christian merchants and townsmen from the 
provinces of interior Russia generally were not permitted to emigrate. When in 1796 "it was 
made known that groups of jews [already] .... had immigrated into the Kiev, Chernigov and 
Novgorod-Syeversk Provinces," it was likewise granted there "to utilize the right of the 
merchant guild and the townsman class." 


The pre-Revolution Jewish Encyclopedia writes: The Ukase of 1791 "laid the groundwork for 
setting up the pale of settlement, even if it wasn't so intended. Under the conditions of the 
then-obtaining social and civic order in general, and of jewish life in particular, the 
administration could not consider bringing about a particularly onerous situation and 
conclude for them exceptional laws, which among other things would restrict the right of 
residency. In the context of its time, this Ukase did not contain that which in this respect 
would have brought the jews into a less favorable condition than the Christians... The Ukase 
of 1791 in no way limited the rights of jews in the choice of residency, created no special 
'borders/ and 'for jews the way was opened into new regions, into which in general people 
could not emigrate.' The main point of the decree was not concerned with their jewishness, 
but that they were traders; the question was not considered from the national or religious 
point of view, but only from the viewpoint of usefulness." 

This Ukase of 1791, which actually privileged jewish merchants in comparison to Christian 
ones, was in the course of time the basis for the future "Pale of Settlement.," which almost 
until the Revolution castas it were a dark shadow over Russia. 


By itself however the Ukase of 1791 was not so oppressive 
in its outworking as to prevent "a small [jewish] colony from 
emerging in St Petersburg by the end of the reign of 
Catherine II." [G43] Here lived "the famous tax-leaser Abram 
Peretz" and some of the merchants close to him, and also, 
"while the religious struggle was in full swing, the rabbi 
Avigdor Chaimovitch and his opponent, the famous hassidic 
Tzadik Zalman Boruchovitch." 

In 1793 and 1795 the second and third Partition of Poland 
took place, and the jewish population from Lithuania, 
Poldolia, and Volhynia, numbering almost a million, came 
under Russia's jurisdiction. This increase in population was a 
very significant event, though for a long time not recognized 
as such. It later influenced the fate of both Russia and the 
jewry of East Europe. 

"After centuries-long wandering [jewry] came under one roof, in a single great congregation." 

* * * * 

In the now vastly-expanded region of jewish settlement, the same questions came up as 
before. The jews obtained rights of Merchant guilds and townsmen, which they had not 
possessed in Poland, and they got the right to equal participation in the class-municipal self- 
government... then had to accept the restrictions of this status: they could not migrate into 
the cities of the inner-Russian provinces, and were liable to be moved out of the villages. 

With the now huge extent of the jewish population, the Russian regime no longer had a way 
to veil the fact that the jews continued to live in the villages simply by modeling it as a 
"temporary visit." "A burning question .... was whether the economic condition could 
tolerate so many tradesmen and traders living amongst the peasants." 

In order to defuse the problem, many Shtetl were made equal to cities. Thus, the legal 
possibility came about for jews to continue living there. But with the large number of jews in 
the country and the high population density in the cities, that was no solution. 

[G43] Now it seemed to be a natural way out, that the jews would take advantage of the 
possibility offered by Catherine to settle in the huge, scarcely-occupied New Russia. The new 
settlers were offered inducements, but this "did not succeed in setting a colonization 
movement into motion. Even the freedom of the new settlers from taxes appeared not to be 
attractive enough" to induce such a migration. 

Rabbi Schneui Z aim an 


Thus Catherine decided in 1794 to induce the jews to emigrate with contrary measures: the 
jews were relocated out of the villages. At the same time, she decided to assess the entire 
jewish population with a tax that was double that paid by the Christians. (Such a tax had 
already been paid for a long time by the Old Believers, but applied to the jews, this law 
proved to be neither effective nor of long duration.) 

Those were the last regulations of Catherine. From the end of 1796 Paul I reigned. The 
Jewish Encyclopedia evaluates him in this way: "The time of the angry rule of Paul I passed 
well for the jews... All edicts of Paul I concerning the jews indicate that the monarch was 
tolerant and benevolent toward the jewish population." "When the interest of jews 
conflicted with Christians, Paul I by no means automatically sided with the Christian." Even 
when in 1797 he ordered "measures to reduce the power of the jews and the spirituals over 
the peasants," that was "actually not set up againstthe jews: the point was the protection of 
the peasants." Paul recognized also "the right of the Hassidim not to have to live in secrecy." 
He extended the right of jews to belong to the merchant- and townsmen-class even to the 
Courland Province (which was no Polish inheritance, and later, it also did not belong to the 
"pale of settlement"). Consistent with that policy, he denied the respective petitions of the 
parishes of Kovno, Kamenez-Podolsk, Kiev and Vilna, to be permitted to move the jews out 
of their cities. 

Paul had inherited the stubborn resistance of the Polish landholders against any changing of 
their rights; among these was the right over the jews and the right to hold court over them. 
They misused these rights often. Thus the Complaint of the jews of Berdychiv [Ukraine] 
againstthe princes of Radziwill stated: "in order to hold our [G45] religious services, we must 
first pay gold to those to whom the prince has leased our faith," and against Catherine's 
former favorite [Simon] Zorich: "one ought not to have to pay him for the air one breathes." 
In Poland many Shtetl and cities were the possession of nobles, and the landowners 
assessed arbitrary and opportunistic levies that the residents had to pay. 

Derzhavin and the Belarus famine 

[G45] Since the start of the reign of Paul I there was a great famine in White Russia, 
especially in the province of Minsk. The poet Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin, then serving as 
Senator, was commissioned to go there and determine its cause and seek a solution — for 
which task he received no money to buy grain, but instead had the right to confiscate 
possessions of negligent landowners, sell their stockpile and distribute them. 

Derzhavin was not just a great poet, but also an outstanding statesman who left behind 
unique proofs of his effectiveness which we want to delve into in the following. 


The famine, as Derzhavin confirmed, was 
unimaginable. He writes "when I arrived in White 
Russia, I personally convinced myself of the great 
scarcity of grain among the villagers. Due to the very 
serious hunger — virtually all nourished themselves 
from fermented grass, mixed with a tiny portion of 
meal or pearl barley -, "the peasants were 
malnourished and sallow like dead people. "In order 
to remedy this, I found out which of the rich 
landowners had grain in their storehouses," took it 
to the town center and distributed it to the poor; 
and I commanded the goods of a Polish Count "in 
view of such pitiless greed" to be yielded to a 
trustee. "After the nobleman was made aware of the 
dire situation he awoke from his slumber or better, 
from his shocking indifference toward humanity: he 
used every means to feed the peasants by acquiring 
grainfrom neighboring provinces and when after 
two months the harvest time arrived... the famine 
ended." When Derzhavin visited the provincial 
government, he so pursued the noble rulers and 

[G46] district police captains that the nobility "banded together together and sent the Czar a 
scurrilous complain against Derzhavin." 

Derzhavin discovered that the jewish schnapps distillers exploited the alcoholism of the 
peasants: "After I had discovered that the jews from profit-seeking use the lure of drink to 
beguile grain from the peasants, convert it into brandy and therewith cause a famine. I 
commanded that they should close their distilleries in the village Liosno." "I informed myself 
from sensible inhabitants" as well as nobles, merchants, and villagers "about the manner of 
life of the jews, their occupations, their deceptions and all their pettifogging with which ... 
they provide the poor dumb villages with hunger; and on the other hand, by what means 
one could protect them from the common pack and how to facilitate forthem an honorable 
and respectable way out ... to enable them to become useful citizens. 

Afterwards, in the autumn months, Derzhavin described many evil practices of the Polish 
landlords and jewish leasers in his "Memorandum on the mitigation of famine in White 
Russia and on the lifestyles of the jews," which he also made known to the czar and the 
highest officials of state. This Memorandum is a very comprehensive document that 
evaluates the conditions inherited from the Poles as well as the possibilities for overcoming 
the poverty of the peasants, describing the peculiarities of the jewish way of life of that time 
and includes a proposal for reform in comparison to Prussia and Austria. The very explicit 
practical presentation of the recommended measures makes this the first work of an 
enlightened Russian citizen concerning jewish life in Russia, in those first years in which 
Russia acquired jews in a large mass. That makes it a work of special interest. 


The Memorandum consists of two parts: (1) on the residence of White Russian in general (in 
reviews of the Memorandum we usually find no mention of this important part) and (2) on 
the jews. 

[1] Derzhavin begins by establishing that the agricultural economy was in shambles. The 
peasants there were "lazy on the job, not clever, they procrastinate every small task and are 
sluggish in [G47] field work." Year in, year out "they eat unwinnowed corn: in the spring, 
Kolotucha or Bolotucha from [eggs and] rye meal," in summer they content themselves with 
a mixture of a small amount of some grain or other with chopped and cooked grass. They are 
so weakened, that they stagger a round." 

The local Polish landlords "are not good proprietors. They do not manage the property.. . 
themselves, but lease it out," a Polish custom. But for the lease "there are no universal rules 
protecting the peasants from overbearing or to keep the business aspect from falling apart." 
"Many greedy leasers... by imposing hard work and oppressive taxes bring the people into a 
bad way and transform them... into poor, homeless peasants." This lease is all the worst for 
being short-term, made for 1-3 years at a time so that the leaser hastens "to get his 
advantage from it... without regard to the exhausting" of the estate. 

The emaciation of the peasants was sometimes even worse: "several landlords that lease the 
traffic in spirits in their villages to the jews, sign stipulations that the peasants may only buy 
their necessities from these leasers [triple price]; likewise the peasants may not sell their 
product to anyone except the jewish lease holder... cheaper than the market price." Thus 
"they plunge the villagers into misery, and especially when they distribute again their horded 
grain... they must finally give a double portion; whoever does not do it is punished... the 
villagers are robbed of every possibility to prosper and be full." 

Then he develops in more detail the problem of the liquor distilling. Schnapps was distilled 
by the landlords, the landed nobility 
[Szlachta] of the region, the priests, monks, 
and jews. Of the almost million jews, 2-3,000 
live in the villages and live mainly from the 
liquor traffic. The peasants, "after bringing in 
the harvest, are sweaty and careless in what 
they spend; they drink, eat, enjoy 
themselves, pay the jews for their old debts 
and then, whatever they askfor drinks. For 
this reason the shortage is already manifest 
by winter... In every settlement there is at 
least one, and in several settlements quite a 
few taverns built by the landlords, where for 
their advantage [G48] and that of the jewish 
lease-holders, liquor is sold day and night... 
There the jews trick them out of not only the 
life-sustaining grain, but that which is sown 
in the field, field implements, household 

items, health and even their life." And all that is sharpened by the mores of the "koleda... 


Jews travel especially during the harvest in autumn through the villages, and afterthey have 
made the farmer, along with his whole family, drunk, drive them into debt and take from 
them every last thing needed to survive.... In that they box the drunkard's ears and plunder 
him, the villager is plunged into the deepest misery." He lists also other reasons for the 
impoverishing of the peasants. 

Doubtless, behind these fateful distilleries stand the Polish landlords. Proprietor and leaser 
act in behalf of the owner and attend to making a profit: "to this class" Gessen asserts 
"belonged not just jews but also Christians" especially priests. But the jews were an 
irreplaceable, active and very inventive link in the chain of exploitation of these illiterate 
emaciated peasants that had no rights of their own. If the White Russian settlement had not 
been injected with jewish tavern managers and leasers, then the wide-spread system of 
exploitation would not have functioned, and removing the jewish links in the chain would 
have ended it. 

After this Derzhavin recommended energetic measures, as for example for the expurgation 
of these burdens of peasant life. The landlords would need to attend to this problem. Only 
they alone who are responsible for the peasants should be allowed to distill liquor "under 
their own... supervision and not from far-removed places," and to see to it, that "every year 
a supply of grain for themselves and the peasants" would be on hand, and indeed as much 
as would be needed for good nutrition. "If the danger arises that this is not done, then the 
property is to be confiscated for the state coffers." The schnapps distilling is to begin no 
sooner than the middle of September and 
end middle of April, i.e. the whole time of 
land cultivation is to be free of liquor 
consumption. In addition, the liquor is not 
to be sold during worship services or at 
night. The liquor stores should only be 
permitted "in the main streets, near the 
markets, mills and establishments where 
foreigners gather." But all the superfluous 
and newly-built liquor stores, "whose 
number has greatly increased since the 
annexation of [White Russia]... are 
immediately to cease use for that 
purpose: the sale of liquor in them to be 
forbidden." "In villages and out-of-the- 
way places there should not be any, that 
the peasant not sink into drunkenness." 
Jews however should "not be permitted 
to sell liquor either by the glass orthe keg... nor should they be the brew masters in the 
distilleries," and "they should not be allowed to lease the liquor stores." "Koledas" are also 
to be forbidden; as well as the short-term leasing of operations. By means of exacting 
stipulations "the leaseristo be prevented from working an operation into the ground." 
Under threat of punishment is market abuse to be forbidden, by which the landlords "do not 
permit their peasants to buy what they need somewhere else," or "to sell theirsurplus 
somewhere other than to their proprietor." There were still other economic proposals: "in 


this manner the scarcity of food can in the future be prevented in the White Russian 

[2] In the second part of the Memorandum, Derzhavin, going out from the taskgiven by the 
Senate, submitted a suggestion for the transformation of the life of the jews in the Russian 
Kingdom- not in isolation, but rather in the context of the misery of White Russia and with 
the goal to improve the situation. But here he set himself the assignment to give a brief 
overview of jewish history, especially the Polish period in order to explain the current 
customs of the jews. Among others, he used his conversations with the Berlin-educated 
enlightened jew, physician llya Frank, who put his thoughts down in writing. "The jewish 
popular teachers mingle 'mystic-talmudic' pseudo-exegesis of the Bible with the true spirit of 
the teachings... They expound strict laws with the goal of isolating the jews from other 
peoples and to instill a deep hatred against every other religion... Instead of cultivating a 
universal virtue, they contrive... an empty ceremony of honoring God... The moral character 
of the jews has changed in the last century to their disadvantage, [G50] and in consequence 
they have become pernicious subjects... In order to renew the jews morally and politically, 
they have to be brought to the point of returning to the original purity of their religion... The 
jewish reform in Russia must begin with the foundation of public schools, in which the 
Russian, German and jewish languages would be taught." What kind of prejudice is it to 
believe that the assimilation of secular knowledge is tantamount to a betrayal of religion and 
folk and that working the land is not suitable for a jew? Derzhavin declined in his 
Memorandum a suggestion by Nota Chaimovitsh Notkin, a major merchant from Shklov, 
whom he had also met. Although Notkin demurred from the most important conclusions 
and suggestions of Derzhavin that had to do with jews, he was at the same time in favor, if 
possible, of excluding the jews from the production of liquor; and saw it as needful for them 
to get an education and pursue a productive career, preferably working with their hands, 
whereby he also held out the possibility of emigration "into the fruitful steppe for the 
purpose of raising sheep and crops." 

Following the explanation of Frank who rejected the power of the Kehilot, Derzhavin 
proceeded from the same general consequences: "The original principles of pure worship 
and ethics" [of the jews] had been transformed into "false concepts," by which the simple 
jewish people "is misled, and constantly is so led, so much so that between them and those 
of other faiths a wall has been built that cannot be broken through, which has been made 
firm, a wall that firmly binds [the jews] together and, surrounded by darkness, separates 
them from their fellow citizens." Thus in raising their children "they pay plenty for Talmud 
instruction - and that without time limit... As long as the students continue in their current 
conditions, there is no prospect for a change in their ways.... They believe themselves to be 
the true worshippers of God, and despise everyone of a different faith... There the people 
are brought to a constant expectation of the Messiah... [They believe] that their Messiah, by 
overthrowing all earthlings will rule over them in flesh and blood and restore to them their 
former kingdom, fame and glory." Of the youths he wrote: "they marry all too young, 
sometimes before they reach ten years old, and though nubile, they are [G51] not strong 
enough." Regarding the Kahal system: the inner-jewish collection of levies provides "to the 
Kehilot every year an enviable sum of income that is incomparably higher than the state 
taxes that are raised from individuals in the census lists. The Kahal elders do not excuse 
anyone from the accounting. As a result, their poor masses find themselves in the condition 


of severe emaciation and great poverty, and there are many of them... In contrast, the 
members of the kahal are rich, and live in superfluity; by ruling over both levers of power, 
the spiritual and secular,... they have a great power over the people. In this way they 
hold. them ... in great poverty and fear." The Kehilot "issues to the people every possible 
command... which must be performed with such exactitude and speed, that one can only 

Derzhavin identified the nub of the problem thusly: "[the jews'] great numbers in White 
Russia ... is itself a heavy burden for the land on account of the disproportion to that of the 
crop farmers... This disproportion is the outstanding one of several important reasons that 
produces here a shortage of grain and other edible stores... Not one of them was a crop 
farmer at that time, yet each possessed and gobbled up more grain than the peasant with 
his large family, who had harvested it by the sweat of his brow... Above all, in the villages 
they ...are occupied in giving the peasant all their necessities on credit, at an extraordinary 
rate of interest; and thus the peasant, who at some time or other became a debtor to them, 
can no longer get free of it." Arching over this are the "frivolous landlords that put their 
villages intojewish hands, not just temporarily but permanently." The landowners however 
are happy to be able to shift everything on to the jews: "according to their own words, they 
regard the Jews as the sole reason for the wasting of the peasants" and the landlord only 
rarely acknowledges "that he, if they were removed from his holdings, would suffer no small 
loss, since he receives from them no small income from the lease." 

Thus Derzhavin did not neglect to examine the matter from a variety of angles: "Infairness 
to [the jews] we must point out [G52] also that during this grain shortage they have taken 
care to feed not a few hungry villagers— though everyone also knows that that came with a 
bill: upon the harvest being brought in, they will get it back 100-fold." In a private report to 
the Attorney General, Derzhavin wrote, "It is hard not to err by putting all the blame on one 
side. The peasants booze away their grain with the jews and suffer under its shortage. The 
landholders cannot forbid drunkenness, for they owe almost all their income to the distilling 
of liquor. And all the blame cannot be placed even on the jews, that they take the last 
morsel of bread away from the peasant to earn their own life sustenance." 

To llya Frank, Derzhavin once said, "since the providence of this tiny scattered people has 
preserved them until the present, we too must take care for their protection." And in his 
report he wrote with the uprightness of that time, "if the Most High Providence, to the end 
of some unknown purpose, leaves (on account of His purposes) this dangerous people to live 
on the earth, then governments under whose scepter they have sought protection must 
bear it... They are thus obligated extend their protection to the jews, so that they may be 
useful both to themselves and to the society in which they dwell." 

Because of all his observations in White Russia, and of his conclusion, and of all he wrote in 
the Memorandum, and especially because of all these lines, and probably also because he 
"praised the keen vision of the great Russian monarchs" "which forbade the immigration and 
travel of these clever robbers into their realm," is Derzhavin spoken of as "a fanatical enemy 
of jews," a great Anti-Semite. He is accused - though unjustly, as we have seen - of 
"imputing the drunkenness and poverty of the White Russian peasant exclusively to the 


jews," and his "positive measures" were characterized as given without evidence, to serve 
his personal ambition. 

But that he was in no wise prejudiced against the jews, is indicated in that (1) his whole 
Memorandum emerged in 1800 in response to the [G53] actual misery and hunger of the 
peasants, (2) the goal was to do well by both the White Russian peasant and the jews, (3) he 
distinguished them economically and (4) his desire was to orient the jews toward a real 
productive activity, of whom, as Catherine planned, a part first and foremost was supposed 
to have been relocated in territories that were not closed. 

As a critical difficulty Derzhavin saw the instability and transientness of the jewish 
population, of which scarcely 1/6 was included in the census. "Without a special, 
extraordinary effort it is difficult to count them accurately, because, being in cities, shtetl, 
manor courts, villages, and taverns, they constantly move back and forth, they do not 
identify themselves as local residents, but as guests that are here from another district or 
colony." Moreover, "they all look alike... and have the same name," and have no surname; 
and "not only that, all wear the same blackgarments: one cannot distinguish them and 
misidentifies them when they are registered or identified, especially in connection with 
judicial complaints and investigations." Therein the Kehilot takes care not "to disclose the 
real number, in order not unduly to burden their wealthy with taxes for the number 

Derzhavin sought however a comprehensive solution "to reduce [the number of jews in the 
White Russian villages]... without causing damage to anyone and thus to ease the feeding of 
the original residents; yet at the same time, for those that should remain, to provide better 
and less degrading possibilities for earning their sustenance." In addition, he probed how to 
"reduce their fanaticism and, without retreating in the slightest from the rule of toleration 
toward different religions, to lead them by a barely-noticed way to enlightenment; and after 
expunging their hatred of people of other faiths, above all to bring them to give up their 
besetting intention of stealing foreign goods." The goal was to find a way to separate the 
freedom of religious conscience from freedom from punishment of evil deeds. 

Thereafter he laid out by layers and explicitly the measures to be recommended, and in 
doing so gave proof of his economic and statesmanlike competence. First, "that [the jews] 
should have no occasion [G54] for any kind of irritation, to send them into flight or even to 
murmur quietly," they are to be reassured of protection and favor by a manifest of the czar, 
in which should be strengthened the principle of tolerance toward their faith and the 
maintenance of the privileges granted by Catherine, "only with one small change to the 
previous principles." (But those "that will not submit to these principles shall be given the 
freedom to emigrate" - a demand that farexceeded in point of freedom the 20 th century 
Soviet Union). Immediately thereafter it states: aftera specific time interval, after which all 
new credit is temporarily forbidden, all claims of debt between jews and Christians to be 
ordered, documented, and cleared "in order to restore the earlier relation of trust so that in 
the future not the slightest obstruction should be found for the transformation of the jews 
to a different way of life... for the relocation into other districts" or in the old places, "for the 
assignment of a new life conditions." Free of debt, the jews are thus to be made as soon as 
possible into freemen for the Reforms." From the vantage point of the publication of the 


Manifest are all dues assessed by jews "for the equalization of debt of poor people" is to 
applied to poor jews, to deflect the payment of Kahal debts or for the furnishings for 
migrants. From the one group, no tax is to be levied for three years — from the other, for six 
years—, and instead, that money is to be dedicated to the setting up of factories and work 
places for these jews. Landowners must abandon obligating jews in their shtetls to set up 
various factories and instead begin on their estates to cultivate grain, "in order that they 
may earn their bread with their own hands," but "under no circumstance is liquor to be sold 
anywhere, secretly or openly," or these landholders would themselves lose their rights to 
the production of liquor. It was also a non-negotiable to carry out a universal, exact census 
of the population under responsibility of the Kahal elders. For those that had no property to 
declare as merchant or townsman, two new classes were to be created with smaller income: 
village burghers and "colonist" (where "the denotation 'krestyanin' [farmer] would not be 
used because of its similarity to the word 'Christian'"). The jewish settlers would have to be 
regarded as "free and not as serfs," but "under no condition or pretext may they dare to 
take Christian man- or maid-servants, they may not own a single Christian peasant, nor to 
expand themselves into the domain of magistrates and town fathers, so that they not gain 
any special rights over Christians." "After they have declared their wish to be enrolled in a 
particular status," then must "the necessary number of young men" be sent to Petersburg, 
Moscow, or Riga - one group "to learn the keeping of merchant books," second to learn a 
trade, the third to attend schools "for agriculture and land management." Meanwhile "some 
energetic and precise jews should be selected as deputies... for all these areas where land is 
designated for colonization." (There follows minutiae on the arrangements of plans, 
surveying the land, housing construction, the order to release different groups of settlers, 
their rights in transit, the grace-period in which they would remain tax-free - all these details 
that Derzhavin laid out so carefully we pass by.) On the inner ordering of the jewish 
congregation:: "in order to place the jews ...under the secularauthorities ...justthe same as 
everyone else, the Kehilot may not continue in any form." Together with the abolishment of 
the Kehilot is "likewise abolished all previous profiteering assessments, which the Kehilot 
raised from the jewish people... and at the same time, the secular taxes are to be assessed. .. 
as with the other subjects" (i.e. not doubled), and "the schools and synagogues must be 
protected by laws." "The males may not marry younger than 17 nor the females than 15 
years." Then there is a section on education and enlightenment of the jews. The jewish 
schools to the 12 th year, and thereafter the general schools, are to become more like those 
of other religions; "those however that have achieved distinction in the high sciences are to 
be received in the academies and universities as honorary associates, doctors, professors" - 
but "they are not... to be taken into the rank of officers and staff officers," because 
"although they may also be taken into the military service, they will e.g. "not take up arms 
against the enemy on Saturday, which in fact often does happen." Presses for jewish books 
are to be constructed. Along with synagogues are to be constructed jewish hospitals, poor 
houses, and orphanages. 

[G56]Thus Derzhavin concluded quite self-consciously: "thus, this cross-grained [scattered] 
people known as jews... in this its sad condition will observe an example of order." Especially 
regarding enlightenment: "This first point will bear fruit — if not today and immediately, 
definitely in the coming times, or at worst after several generations, in unnoticed way," and 
then the jews would become "genuine subjects of the Russian throne." 


While Derzhavin was composing his Memorandum, he also made it known what the Kehilot 
thought about it, and made it clear that he was by no means making himself their friend. In 
the official answers their rejection was formulated cautiously. It stated, "the jews are not 
competent for cultivating grain nor accustomed to it, and their faith is an obstacle... They see 
no other possibilities than their current occupations, which serve their sustenance, and they 
do not need such, but would like to remain in their current condition." The Kehilot saw 
moreover, that the report entailed their own obsolescence, the end of their source of 
income, and so began, quietly, but stubbornly and tenaciously, to work against Derzhavin's 
whole proposal. 

This opposition expressed itself, according to Derzhavin, by means of a complaint filed by a 
jewess from Liosnoto the Czar, in which she alleged that, in a liquor distillery, Derzhavin 
"horrifically beat her with a club, until she, being pregnant, gave birth to a dead infant." The 
Senate launched an investigation. Derzhavin answered: "As I was a quarter hour long in this 
factory, I not only did not strike any jewess, but indeed did not even see one." He sought a 
personal reception by the czar. "Let me be imprisoned, but I will reveal the idiocy of the man 
that has made such claims... How can your Highness... believe such a foolish and untrue 
complaint?" (The jew that had taken the lying complaint was condemned to one yearinthe 
penitentiary, but after 2 or 3 months Derzhavin "accomplished" his being set free, this being 
now under the reign of Alexander I.) 

Paul, murdered in May 1801, was unable to come to any resolution in connection with 
Derzhavin's Memorandum. "It led [G57] at the time to small practical results, as one could 
have expected, since Derzhavin lost his position in the change of court." 

Not until the end of 1802 was the "committee for the assimilation of the Jews" established, 
to examine Derzhavin's Memorandum and prepare corresponding recommendations. The 
committee consisted of two Polish magnates close to Alexander I: Prince Adam [Jerzy] 
Czartoryski and Count (Graf) Severin Potocki as well as Count Valerian Subov. (Derzhavin 
observed regarding all three, that they too had great holdings in Poland, and would notice "a 
significant loss of income" if the jews were to be removed, and that "the private interests of 
the above-mentioned Worthies would outweigh those of the state.") Also on the committee 
were Interior Minister Count Kotshubey and the already-mentioned Justice Minister -the 
first in Russian history - Derzhavin himself. Michael Speransky also worked with the 
committee. The committee was charged to invite jewish delegates form the Kehiloth of 
every province and these -mostly merchants of the First Guild - did come. "Besides that the 
committee members had the right to call enlightened and well-meaning jews of their 
acquaintance." The already-known Nota Notkin, that had moved from White Russia to 
Moscow and then St Petersburg; the Petersburg tax-leaser Abram Perets, who was a close 
friend of Speransky; [Yehuda] Leib Nevachovich and Mendel Satanaver, — both friends of 
Perets - and others. Not all took part in the hearings, but they exercised a significant 
influence on the committee members. Worthy of mention: Abram Perets' son Gregory was 
condemned in the Decembrist trial and exiled - probably only because he had discussed the 
Jewish Question with [Pavel] Pestel, but without suspecting anything of the Decembrist 
conspiracy - [G58] and because his grandson was the Russian Secretary of State, a very high 
position. Nevachovich, a humanist (but no cosmopolitan) who was deeply tied to Russian 
cultural life - then a rarity among jews - published in Russian "The Crying Voice of the 


Daughter of J udah" (1803) in which he urged Russian society to reflect on the restrictions of 
jewish rights, and admonished the Russians to regard jews as their countrymen, and thus 
that they should take the jews among them into Russian society. 

The committee came to an overwhelmingly-supported resolution: "[The jews] are to be 
guided into the general civil life and education... To steerthem toward productive work," it 
should be made easierforthem to become employed in trades and commerce, the 
constriction of the right of free mobility should be lessened; they must become accustomed 
to wearing ordinary apparel, for "the custom of wearing clothes that are despised 
strengthens the custom to be despised." But the most acute problem was that jews, on 
account of the liquor trade, dwelled in the villages. Notkin "strove to win the committee to 
the view of letting the jews continue to live there, and only to take measures against 
possible abuses on their part." 

"The charter of the committee led to tumult in the Kehiloth," Gessen wrote. A special 
convocation of their deputies in 1803 in Minsk resolved "to petition our czar, may his fame 
become still greater, that they (the Worthies) assume no innovations for us." They decided 
to send certain delegates to Petersburg, explained, that an assembly had been held for that 
purpose, and even called for a three-day jewish fast- "unrest ...gripped the whole pale of 
settlement. Quite apart from the threatening expulsion of jews from the villages, "the 
Kehiloth took a negative stance toward the cultural question. ..out of concern to preserve 
their own way of life." As answer to the main points of the Recommendation "the Kehiloth 
explained that the Reform must in any case be postponed 15-20 years." 

Derzhavin wrote "there were from their side various rebuttals aimed to leave everything as 
it was. In addition, Gurko, a White Russian landowner sent Derzhavin a letter he had 
received: [G59] a jew in White Russia had written him regarding one of his plenipotentiaries 
in Petersburg. It said that they had, in the name of all Kehilot of the world, put the cherem 
([or herem,] i.e. the ban) on Derzhavin as a Persecutor, and had gathered a million to be 
used as gifts forthis situation and had forwarded it to St Petersburg. They appealed for all 
efforts to be applied to the removal of Derzhavin as Attorney General, and if that were not 
possible to seek his life... However the thing they wanted to achieve was not to be forbidden 
to sell liquor in the village taverns.... and in order to make it easierto advance this business," 
they would put together opinions from foreign regions, from different places and peoples, 
on how the situation of the jews could be improved" - and in fact, such opinions, sometimes 
in French, sometimes, in German, began to be sent to the Committee. 

Besides this, Nota Notkin became "the central figure that organized the little jewish 
congregation of Petersburg." In 1803 "he submitted a brief to the Committee in which he 
sought to paralyze the effect of the proposal submitted by Derzhavin." Derzhavin writes, 
"Notkin came to him one day and asked, with feigned well-wishing, that he, Derzhavin, 
should not take a stand all alone against his colleagues on the Committee, who all are on the 
side of the jews; whether he would not accept 100- or, if that is too little, 200,000 rubles, 
only so that he could be of one mind with all his colleagues on the committee." Derzhavin 
"decided to disclose this attempt at bribery to the czar and prove it to him with Gurko's 
letter." He "thought such strong proofs prove effective and the czar would start to be wary 
of the people that surrounded him and protected the jews." Speransky also informed the 


czar of it, but "Speransky was fully committed to the jews," and - "from the first meeting of 
the Jewish Committee it became apparent that all members represented the view that the 
liquor distilling should ... continue in the hands of jews as before." 

Derzhavin opposed it. Alexander bore himself ever more coldly toward him and dismissed 
his Justice Minister shortly thereafter (1803). 

Beside this, Derzhavin's papers indicate that he -whether in military or civil service -always 
came into disfavor and was hot-headed and everywhere soon took his leave. 

[G60] One has to admit, that Derzhavin foresaw much that developed in the problematic 
Russo-Judaic relationship throughout the entire 19 th century, even if not in the exact and 
unexpected form that it took in the event. He expressed himself coarsely, as was customary 
then, but he did not intend to oppress the jews; on the contrary, he wanted to open to the 
jews paths to a more free and productive life. 


Chapter 4: During the period of reforms 

At the moment of the ascension of Alexander II to the throne, the Peasant Question in 
Russia had been overripe for a century and demanded immediate resolution. Then suddenly, 
the Jewish Question surfaced and demanded a no less urgent solution as well. In Russia, the 
Jewish Question was not as ancient as the deep-rooted and barbaric institution of serfdom 
and up to this time it did not seem to loom so large in the country. Yet henceforth, for the 
rest of 19th century, and right to the very year of 1917 in the State Duma, the Jewish and the 
Peasant questions would cross over and over again; they would contend with each other and 
thus become intertwined in their competing destiny. 

Alexander II had taken the throne during the difficult impasse of the Crimean War against a 
united Europe. This situation demanded a difficult decision, whether to hold out or to 

Upon his ascension, "voices were immediately raised in defense of the Jewish population." — 
After several weeks, His Majesty gave orders "to make the Jews equal with the rest of 
population in respect to military duty, and to end acceptance of underage recruits." (Soon 
after, the "skill-category" draft of Jewish philistines was cancelled; this meant that "all 
classes of the Jewish population were made equal with respect to compulsory military 
service. "[i]) This decision was confirmed in the Coronation Manifesto of 1856: "Jewish 
recruits of the same age and qualities which are defined for recruits from other population 
groups are to be admitted while acceptance of underage Jewish recruits was to be 
abolished. "[ii] Right then the institution of military cantonists was also completely abolished; 
Jewish cantonists who were younger than 20 years of age were returned to their parents 
even if they already had been turned into soldiers. [Cantonists were the sons of Russian 
conscripts who, from 1721, were educated in special "canton (garrison) schools" for future 
military service]. 

The lower ranks who had served out their full term (and their descendents) received the 
right to live anywhere on the territory of the Russian Empire. (They usually settled where 
they terminated their service. They could settle permanently and had often become the 
founders of new Jewish communities. [iii] In a twist of fate and as a historical punishment, 
Russia and the Romanov Dynasty got Yakov Sverdlov from the descendents of one such 
cantonist settler.pv]) 

By the same manifesto the Jewish population "was forgiven all [considerable] back taxes" 
from previous years. ("Yet already in the course of the next five years new tax liabilities 
accumulated amounting to 22% of the total expected tax sum.[v]) 

More broadly, Alexander II expressed his intention to resolve the Jewish Question — and in 
the most favorable manner. For this, the approach to the question was changed drastically. 
If during the reign of Nicholas I the government saw its task as first reforming the Jewish 


inner life, gradually clearing it out through productive work and education with consequent 
removal of administrative restrictions, then during the reign of Alexander II the policy was 
the opposite: to begin "with the intention of integrating this population with the native 
inhabitants of the country" as stated in the Imperial Decree of 1856. [vi] So the government 
had began quick removal of external constraints and restrictions not looking for possible 
inner causes of Jewish seclusion and morbidity; it thereby hoped that all the remaining 
problems would then solve themselves. 

To this end, still another Committee for Arranging the Jewish Way of Life was established in 
1856. (This was already the seventh committee on Jewish affairs, but by no means the last). 
Its chairman, the above-mentioned Count Kiselyov, reported to His Majesty that "the goal of 
integrating Jews with the general population" "is hindered by various temporary restrictions, 
which, when considered in the context of general laws, contain many contradictions and 
beget bewilderment." In response, His Majesty ordered "a revision of all existing statutes on 
Jews to harmonize them with the general strategy directed toward integration of this people 
with the native inhabitants, to the extent afforded by the moral condition of Jews"; that is, 
"the fanaticism and economic harmfulness ascribed to them."[vii] 

No, not for nothing had Herzen struggled with his Kolokol, or Belinskyand Granovsky, or 
Gogol! (For although not having such goals, the latter acted in the same direction as the 
former three did.) Under the shell of the austere reign of Nicholas I, the demand for decisive 
reforms and the will for them and the people to implement them were building up, and, 
astonishingly, new projects were taken by the educated high governmental dignitaries more 
enthusiastically than by educated public in general. And this immediately impacted the 
Jewish Question. Time after time, the ministers of Internal Affairs (first Lanskoi and then 
Valuev) and the Governors General of the Western and Southwestern Krais [administrative 
divisions of Tsarist Russia] shared theirsuggestions with His Majesty who was quite 
interested in them. "Partial improvements in the legal situation of the Jews were enacted by 
the government on its own initiative, yet under direct supervision by His Majesty."[viii] 
These changes went along with the general liberating reforms which affected Jews as well as 
the rest of population. 

In 1858, Novorossiysk Governor General Stroganov suggested immediate, instant, and 
complete equalization of the Jews in all rights — but the Committee, now under the 
chairmanship of Bludov, stopped short, finding itself unprepared for such a measure. In 1859 
it pointed out, for comparison, that "while the Western-European Jews began sending their 
children to public schools at the first invitation of the government, more or less turning 
themselves to useful occupations, the Russian government has to wrestle with Jewish 
prejudices and fanaticism"; therefore, "making Jews equal in rights with the native 
inhabitants cannot happen in any other way than a gradual change, following the spread of 
true enlightenment among them, changes in their inner life, and turning their activity toward 
useful occupations. "[ix] 


The Committee also developed arguments against equal rights. It suggested that the 
question being considered was not so much a Jewish question, as it was a Russian one; that 
it would be precipitous to grant equal rights to Jews before raising the educational and 
cultural level of Russian population whose dark masses would not be able to defend 
themselves in the face of the economic pressure of Jewish solidarity; that the Jews hardly 
aspire toward integration with the rest of the citizens of the country, that they strive toward 
achieving all civil rights while retaining their isolation and cohesion which Russians do not 
possess among themselves. 

However, these voices did not attain influence. One after another, restrictions had been 
removed. In 1859 the Prohibition of 1835 was removed: it had forbidden the Jews to take a 
lease or manage populated landowner's lands. (And thus, the right to rule over the peasants; 
though that prohibition was "in some cases ... secretly violated." Although after 1861 lands 
remaining in the property of landowners were not formally "populated.") The new changes 
were aimed "to make it easierfor landowners to turn for help to Jews if necessary" in case of 
deterioration of in the manorial economy, but also "in order to somewhat widen the 
restricted field of economic activity of the Jews." Now the Jews could lease these lands and 
settle on them though they could not buy them. [x] Meanwhile in the Southwestern Krai 
"capital that could be turned to the purchase of land was concentrated in the hands of some 
Jews ... yet the Jews refused to credit landowners against security of the estate because 
estates could not be purchased by Jews." Soon afterwards Jews were granted the right to 
buy land from landowners inside the Pale of Settlement. [xi] 

With development of railroads and steamships, Jewish businesses such as keeping of inns 
and postal stations had declined. In addition, because of new liberal customs tariffs 
introduced inl857 and 1868, which lowered customs duties on goods imported into Russia, 
"profits on contraband trade" had immediately and sharply decreased. [xii] 

In 1861 the prohibition on Jews to acquire exclusive rights to some sources of revenue from 
estates was abolished. In the same year the systems of tax farming and 'wine farming' 
[translator's note: concessions from the state to private entrepreneurs to sell vodka to the 
populace in particular regions] were abolished. This was a huge blow to a major Jewish 
enterprise. "Among Jews, 'tax collector' and 'contractor' were synonyms for wealth"; now 
Orsha nsky writes, they could just dream about "the time of the Crimean War, when 
contractors made millions, thanks to the flexible conscience and peculiarview of the 
Treasury in certain circles"; "thousands of Jews lived and got rich under the beneficial wing 
of tax farming." Now the interests of the state had begun to be enforced and contracts had 
become much less profitable. And "trading in spirits" had become "far less profitable than ... 
under ... the tax farming system."[xiii] However, as the excise was introduced in the wine 
industry in place of the wine farming system, no special restrictions were laid on Jews and so 
now they could sell and rent distillation factories on a common basis in the Pale of 
Settlement provinces. [xiv] And they had so successfully exercised this right to rent and 


purchase over next two decades that by the 1880s between 32 % and 76 % of all distillation 
factories in the Jewish Pale of Settlement belonged to Jews, and almost all of them fell under 
category of a 'major enterprise'. [xv] By 1872, 89 % of distillation factories in the 
Southwestern Krai were rented by Jews.fxvi] From 1863 Jews were permitted to run 
distillation in Western and Eastern Siberia (for "the most remarkable specialists in the 
distillation industry almost exclusively came from among the Jews"), and from 1865 the 
Jewish distillers were permitted to reside everywhere. [xvii] 

Regarding the spirits trade in the villages, about one-third of the whole Jewish population of 
the Pale lived in villages at the start of 1880s, with two or three families in each vi Mage, [xvi ii] 
as remnants of the korchemstvo [from "tavern" — the state-regulated business of retail 
spirits sale]. An official government report of 1870 stated that "the drinking business in the 
Western Krai is almost exclusively concentrated in the hands of Jews, and the abuses 
encountered in these institutions exceed any bounds of tolerance." [xix] Thus it was 
demanded of Jews to carry on the drinking business only from their own homes . The logic of 
this demand was explained by G. B. Sliozberg: in the villages of Little Russia [Ukraine], that is, 
outside of the legal limits of the Polish autonomy, the landowners did not have the right to 
carry on trade in spirits — and this meant that the Jews could not buy spirits from 
landowners for resale. Yet at the same time the Jews might not buy even a small plot of 
peasant land; therefore, the Jews rented peasant homes and conducted the drinking 
business from them. When such trade was also prohibited — the prohibition was often 
evaded by using a 'front' business: a dummy patent on a spirits business was issued to a 
Christian to which a Jew supposedly only served as an 'attendant.' [xx] 

Also, the 'punitive clause' (as it is worded in the Jewish Encyclopedia), that is, a punishment 
accompanying the prohibition against Jews hiring a Christian as a personal servant, was 
repealed in 1865 as "incompatible with the general spirit of the official policy of tolerance." 
And so "from the end of the 1860s many Jewish families began to hire Christian 
serva nts."[xxi] 

Unfortunately, it is so typical for many scholars studying the history of Jewry in Russia to 
disregard hard-won victories: if yesterday all strength and attention were focused on the 
fight for some civil right and today that right is attained — then very quickly afterwards that 
victory is considered a trifle. There was so much said about the "double tax" on the Jews as 
though it existed for centuries and not for very few short years, and even then it was never 
really enforced in practice. The law of 1835, which was at the time greeted by Jews with a 
sense of relief, was, at the threshold of 20th century dubbed by S. Dubnov as a 'Charter of 
Arbitrariness.' To the future revolutionary Leo Deutsch, who in the 1860s was a young and 
still faithful subject, it looked like the administration "did not strictly [enforce] some 
essential ... restrictions on ... the rights" of Jews, "they turned a blind eye to ... violations"; 
"in general, the life of Jews in Russia in the sixties was not bad.... Among my Jewish peers I 
did not see anyone suffering from depression, despondence, or estrangement as a result of 


oppression" by their Christian mates. [xxii] But then he suddenly recollects his revolutionary 
duty and calls everything given to the Jews during the reign of Alexander I as, "in essence, 
insignificant alleviations" and, without losing a beat, mentions "the crimes of Alexander II" — 
although, in his opinion, the Tsarshouldn't have been killed. [xxiii] And from the middle of 
the 20th century it already looks like for the whole of 19th century that various committees 
and commissions were being created for review of Jewish legal restrictions "and they came 
to the conclusion that the existing legal restrictions did not achieve their aims and should be 
... abolished.... Yet not a single one of the projects worked out by the Committees ... was 
implemented. "[xxiv] 

It's rid of, forgotten, and no toasts made. 

After the first Jewish reforms by Alexander II, the existence of the Pale of Settlement had 
become the most painful issue. "Once a hope about a possibility of future state reforms had 
emerged, and first harbingers of expected renewal of public life had barely appeared, the 
Jewish intelligentsia began contemplating the daring step of raising the question of 
abolishing the Jewish Pale of Settlement altogether."[xxv] Yet still fresh in the Jewish 
memory was the idea of 'selectivity': to impose additional obligations on not-permanently- 
settled and unproductive Jews. And so in 1856 an idea to petition His Majesty appeared in 
the social strata of "Jewish merchants, citizens of St. Petersburg, and out-of-towners," who 
"by their social standing and by the nature of their activity, more closely interacted with the 
central authorities. "[xxvi] The petition asked His Majesty "not to give privileges to the whole 
Jewish population, but only to certain categories," to the young generation "raised in the 
spirit and under the supervision of the government," "to the upper merchant class," and "to 
the good craftsmen, who earn their bread by sweat of their brow"; so that they would be 
"distinguished by the government with more rights than those who still exhibited nothing 
special about their good intentions, usefulness, and industriousness.... Our petition is so that 
the Merciful Monarch, distinguishing wheat from chaff, would be kindly disposed to grant 
several, however modest privileges to the worthy and cultivated among us, thus 
encouraging good and praiseworthy actions. "[xxvii] (Even in all their excited hopes they 
could not even imagine how quickly the changes in the position of the Jews would be 
implemented in practice —already in 1862 some of the authors of this petition would ask 
"about extending equal rights to all who graduate from secondary educational institutions," 
for the grammar school graduates "of course, must be considered people with a European 
education. "[xxviii] 

And yes, "in principle, the Tsardid not mind violations of the laws concerning the Jewish Pale 
of Settlement in favor of individual groups of the Jewish population." In 1859 Jewish 
merchants of the 1st Guild were granted the right of residency in all of Russia (and the 2nd 
Guild in Kiev from 1861; and alsofor all three guilds in Nikolayev, Sevastopol, and Yalta)[xxix] 
with the right of arranging manufacturing businesses, contracts, and acquiring real estate. 
Earlier, doctors and holders of masters degrees in science had already enjoyed the right of 


universal residency (including the right to occupy posts in government service; here we 
should note a professor of medicine G.A. Zakharyin, who in the future would pronounce the 
fatal judgment about the illness of Alexander III). From 1861 this right was granted to 
"candidates of universities," that is, simply to university graduates, [xxx] and also "to persons 
of free professions. "[xxxi] The Pale of Settlement restrictions were now lifted even from the 
"persons, desiring to obtain higher education ... namely to persons, entering medical 
academies, universities, and technical institutes. "[xxxii] Then, as a result of petitions from 
individual ministers, governors, and influential Jewish merchants (e.g., Evzel Ginzburg), from 
1865 the whole territory of Russia including St. Petersburg was opened to Jewish artisans, 
though only for the period of actual professional activity. (The notion of artisans was then 
widened to include all kinds of technicians such as typesetters and typographic 
workers. )[xxxiii] 

Here it is worth keeping in mind that merchants relocated with their clerks, office workers, 
various assistants, and Jewish service personnel, craftsmen, and also with apprentices and 
pupils. Taken altogether, this already made up a notable stream. Thus, a Jew with a right of 
residency outside of the Pale was free to move from the Pale, and not only with his family. 

Yet new relaxations were outpaced by new petitions. In 1861, immediately after granting 
privileges for the "candidates of universities," the Governor General of the Southwestern 
Krai had asked to allow exit from the Pale to those who completed state professional schools 
for the Jews, that is, incomplete high school-level establishments. He had vividly described 
the condition of such graduates: "Young people graduating from such schools find 
themselves completely cut off from Jewish society.... If they do not find occupations 
according to their qualifications within their own circles, they get accustomed to idleness 
and thus, by being unworthy representatives of their profession, they often discredit the 
prestige of education in the eyes of people they live among."[xxxiv] 

In that same year, the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Education declared in unison "that a 
paramount cause of the disastrous condition of Jews is hidden in the abnormal share of Jews 
occupied in commerce and industry versus the rest engaged in agriculture"; and because of 
this "the peasant is unavoidably preyed upon by Jews as if he is obligated to surrender a part 
of his income to their maintenance." Yet the internal competition between the Jews creates 
a "nearly impossible situation of providing for themselves by legal means." And therefore, it 
is necessary to "grant the right of universal residence to merchants" of the 2nd and 3rd 
Guilds, and also to graduates of high or equivalent schools. [xxxv] 

In 1862 the Novorossiysk Governor General again called for "complete abolition of the 
Jewish Pale of Settlement" by asking "to grant the right of universal residency to the entire 
[Jewish] people." [xxxvi] 

Targeted permissions for universal residency of certain Jewish groups were being issued at a 
slower but constant rate. From 1865 acceptance of Jews as military doctors was permitted, 


and right after that (1866-1867), Jewish doctors were allowed to work in the ministries of 
Education and lnterior.[xxxvii] From 1879 they were permitted to serve as pharmacists and 
veterinarians; permission was also granted "to those preparing for the corresponding type of 
activity,"[xxxviii] and also to midwives and feldshers, and "those desiring to study medical 
assista ntarts."[xxxix] 

Finally, a decree by the Minister of Internal Affairs Makov was issued allowing residence 
outside the Pale to all those Jews who had already illegally settled there. [xl] 

Here it is appropriate to add that in the 1860s "Jewish lawyers ... in the absence of the 
official BarCollege during that period were able to get jobs in government service without 
any difficulties. "[xli] 

Relaxations had also affected the Jews living in border regions. In 1856, when, according to 
the Treaty of Paris, the Russian state boundary retreated close to Kishinev and Akkerman, 
the Jews were not forced out of this newly-formed frontier zone. And in 1858 "the decrees 
of Nicholas I, which directed Jews to abandon the fifty versts [an obsolete Russian measure, 
a verst is slightly more than a kilometer] boundary zone, were conclusively repealed. "[xlii] 
And from 1868 movement of Jews between the western provinces of Russia and Polish 
Kingdom was allowed (where previously it was formally prohibited). [xliii] 

Alongside official relaxations to the legal restrictions, there were also exceptions and 
loopholes in regulations. For example, in the capital city of St. Petersburg "despite ... 
prohibitions, the Jews all the same settled in for extended times"; and "with the ascension of 
Alexander II ...the number of Jews in St. Petersburg began to grow quickly. Jewish capitalists 
emerged who began dedicating significant attention to the organization of the Jewish 
community" there; "Baron Goratsy Ginzburg, for example ... L. Rozental, AVarshavsky, and 
others ."[xliv] Toward the end of Alexander ll's reign, E. A. Peretz (the son of the tax farmer 
Abram Peretz) became the Russian Secretary of State. In the 1860s "St. Petersburg started to 
attract quite a few members of the commercial, industrial and intellectual [circles] of 

According to the data of the Commission for Arranging the Jewish Way of Life, in 1880-81, 
6,290 Jews were officially registered in St. Petersburg,[xlvi] while according to other official 
figures, 8,993; and according to a local census from 1881, there were 16,826 Jews in St. 
Petersburg, i.e., around 2% of the total city population. [xlvii] 

In Moscow in 1856 the obligation of arriving Jewish merchants to exclusively reside in the 
Glebovsky Quarter was repealed; "the Jews were allowed to stay in any part of the city. 
During the reign of Alexander II ... the Jewish population of Moscow grew quickly"; by 1880 it 
was around 16,000."[xlviii] 

It was a similarsituation in Kiev. After 1861, "a quick growth of the Jewish population of Kiev 
had began" (from 1,500 in 1862, to 81,000 by 1913). From the 1880s there was an influx of 


Jews to Kiev. "Despite frequent police round-ups, which Kiev was famous for, the numbers 
of Jews there considerably exceeded the official figures.... By the end of the 19th century, 
the Jews accounted for 44% of Kiev merchants."[xlix] 

Yu. I. Hessen calls "the granting of the right of universal residency (1865) to artisans" most 
important. Yet Jews apparently did not hurry to move out of the Pale. Well, if it was so 
overcrowded in there, so constraining, and so deprived with respect to markets and earnings, 
why then did they make "almost no use of the right to leave the Pale of Settlement?" By 
1881, in thirty-one of the interior provinces, Jewish artisans numbered 28,000 altogether 
(and Jews in general numbered 34,000). Hessen explains this paradox in the following way: 
prosperous artisans did not need to seek new places while the destitute did not have the 
means for the move, and the middle group, "which somehow managed from day to day 
without enduring any particular poverty," feared that after their departure the elders of 
their community would refuse to extend an annual passport to them for tax considerations, 
or even "demand that the outgoing parties return home. "[I] 

But one can strongly doubt all this statistics. We have just read that in St. Petersburg alone 
there were at least twice as many Jews than according to official data. Could the slow 
Russian state apparatus really account for the mercury-quick Jewish population within a 
definite time and in all places? 

And the growth of Jewish population of Russia was rapid and confident. In 1864 it amounted 
to 1,500,000 without counting Jews in Poland. [li] And together with Poland in 1850 it was 
2,350,000; and in 1860 it was already 3,980,000. From the initial population of around 
1,000,000 at the time of the first partitions of Poland, to 5,175,000 by the census of 1897 — 
that is, after a century, it grew more than five times. (At the start of the 19th century Russian 
Jewry amounted to 30% of the world's Jewish population, while in 1880 it was already 

This was a major historical event.At the time, its significance was grasped neither by Russian 
society, nor by Russian administration. 

This fast numerical growth alone, without all other peculiarities of the Jewish Question, had 
already put a huge state problem for Russia. And here it is necessary, as always in any 
question, to try to understand both points of view. With such an enormous growth of 
Russian Jewry, two national needs were clashing evermore strongly. On one hand was the 
need of Jews (and a distinct feature of their dynamic 3,000-year existence) to spread and 
settle as wide as possible among non-Jews, so that a greater number of Jews would be able 
to engage in manufacturing, commerce, and serve as intermediaries (and to get involved 
into the culture of the surrounding population). On the other was the need of Russians, as 
the government understood it, to have control over their economic (and then cultural) life, 
and develop it themselves at their own pace. 


Let's not forget that simultaneously with all these relief measures for the Jews, the universal 
liberating reforms of Alexander II were implemented one after another, and so benefiting 
Jews as well as all other peoples of Russia. For example, in 1863 the capitation [i.e., poll or 
head] tax from the urban population was repealed, which meant the tax relief for the main 
part of Jewish masses; only land taxes remained after that, which were paid from the 
collected kosher tax. [liii] 

Yet precisely the most important of these Alexandrian reforms, the most historically 
significant turning point in the Russian history — the liberation of peasants and the abolition 
of the Serfdom in 1861 — turned out to be highly unprofitable for Russian Jews, and indeed 
ruinous for many. "The general social and economic changes resulting from the abolition of 
peasant servitude ... had significantly worsened the material situation of broad Jewish 
masses during that transitional period. "[liv] The social change was such that the multi- 
million disenfranchised and immobile peasant class ceased to exist, reducing the relative 
advantage of Jewish personal freedom. And the economic change was such that "the 
peasant, liberated from the servitude, ...was less in the need of services by the Jew"; that is, 
the peasant was now at liberty from the strict prohibition against trading his products and 
purchasing goods himself — that is, through anyone other than a pre-assigned middleman 
(in the western provinces, almost always a Jew). And now, as the landowners were deprived 
of free serf labor, in order not to be ruined, "they were compelled to get personally engaged 
in the economy of their estates — an occupation where earlier Jews played a conspicuous 
role as renters and middlemen in all kinds of commercial and manufacturing deals."[lv] 

It's noteworthy that the land credit introduced in those years was displacing the Jew "as the 
financial manager of the manorial economy." [Ivi] The development of consumer and credit 
associations led to "the liberation of people from the tyranny of usury."[lvii] 

An intelligent contemporary conveys to us the Jewish mood of the time. Although access to 
government service and free professions was open to the Jews and although "the industrial 
rights of the Jews were broadened" and there were "more opportunities for education" and 
"on every ... corner" the "rapprochement between the Jewish and Christian populations was 
visible" and although the remaining "restrictions ... were far from being strictly enforced" 
and "the officials now treated the Jewish population with far more respect than before," yet 
the situation of Jews in Russia "at the present time ... is very dismal." "Not without reason," 
Jews "express regret ... for good old times." Everywhere in the Pale of Settlement one could 
hear "the Jewish lamentations about the past." For under serfdom an "extraordinary 
development of mediation" took place; the lazy landowner could not take a step without the 
"Jewish trader or agent," and the browbeaten peasant also could not manage without him; 
he could only sell the harvest through him, and borrowed from him also. Before, the Jewish 
business class "derived enormous benefit from the helplessness, wastefulness, and 
impracticality of landowners," but now the landowner had to do everything himself. Also, 
the peasant became "less pliant and timid"; now he often establishes contacts with 


wholesale traders himself and he drinks less; and this "naturally has a harmful effect on the 
trade in spirits, which an enormous number of Jews lives on." The author concludes with the 
wish that the Jews, as happened in Europe, "would side with the productive classes and 
would not become redundant in the national economy."[lviii] 

Now Jews had begun renting and purchasing land. The Novorossiysk Governor General 
(1869) requested in a staff report to forbid Jews in his region to buy land as was already 
prohibited in nine western provinces. Then in 1872 there was a memorandum by the 
Governor General of the Southwestern Krai stating that "Jews rent land not for agricultural 
occupations but only for industrial aims; they hand over the rented land to peasants, not for 
money but for a certain amount of work, which exceeds the value of the usual rent on that 
land, and thereby they "establish a sort of their own form of servitude." And though "they 
undoubtedly reinvigorate the countryside with their capital and commerce," the Governor 
General "considered concentration of manufacture and agriculture in the same hands un- 
conducive, since only under free competition can peasant farms and businesses avoid the 
"burdensome subordination of their work and land to Jewish capital, which is tantamount to 
their inevitable and impending material and moral perdition." However, thinking to limit the 
renting of land to Jews in his Krai, he proposed to "give the Jews an opportunity to settle in 
all of the Greater Russian provinces."[lix] 

The memorandum was put forward to the just-created Commission for Arranging the Jewish 
Way of Life (the eighth of the 'Jewish Commissions', according to count), which was then 
highly sympathetic to the situation of the Jews. It received a negative review which was later 
confirmed by the government: to forbid the Jewish rent of land would be "a complete 
violation of rights" of ... landowners. Moreover, the interests of the major Jewish renter 
"merge completely with those of other landowners.... Well, it is true, that the Jewish 
proletarians group around the major [Jewish] renters and live off the work and means of the 
rural population. But the same also happens in the estates managed by the landowners 
themselves who to this time cannot manage without the help of the Jews."[lx] 

However, in the areas inhabited by the Don Cossacks, the energetic economic advancement 
of the Jews was restricted by the prohibition of 1880 to own or rent the real estate. The 
provincial government found that "in view of the exclusive situation of the Don Province, the 
Cossack population which is obligated to military service to a man, [this] is the only reliable 
way to save the Cossack economy from ruin, to secure the nascent manufacturing and 
commerce in the area." For "a too hasty exploitation of a region's wealth and quick 
development of industry ... are usually accompanied by an extremely uneven distribution of 
capital, and the swift enrichment of some and the impoverishment of others. Meanwhile, 
the Cossacks must prosper, since they carry out their military service on their own horses 
and with their own equipment."[lxi] And thus they had prevented a possible Cossack 


So what happened with the conscription of Jews into military service after all those 
Alexandrian relief measures of 1856? For the 1860s, this was the picture: "When Jews 
manage to find out about the impending Imperial Manifest about recruit enrollment before 
it is officially published ... all members of Jewish families fit for military service flee from their 
homes in all directions...." Because of the peculiarities of their faith and "lackof comradeship 
and the perpetual isolation of the Jewish soldier ... the military service for the Jews was the 
most threatening, the most ruinous, and the most burdensome of duties. "[Ixii] Although 
from 1860 the Jewish service in the Guards was permitted, and from 1861promotions to 
petty officer ranks and service as clerks, [Ixiii] there was still no access to officer ranks. 

I. G. Orshansky, a witness to the 1860s, certifies: "It is true, there is much data supporting 
the opinion that in the recent years the Jews in fact had not fulfilled their conscription 
obligations number-wise. They purchase old recruit discharges and present them to the 
authorities"; peasants sometimes keep them without knowing their value as far back as from 
1812; so now Jewish resourcefulness puts them to use. Or, they "hire volunteers" in place of 
themselves and "pay a certain sum to the treasury." "Also they try to divide their families 
into smaller units," and by this each family claims the privilege of "the only son," (the only 
son was exempt from the military service). Yet, he notes "all the tricks for avoiding 
recruitment ... are similarly encountered among the 'pure-blooded' Russians" and provides 
comparative figures for EkaterinoslavGuberniya. I. G. Orshansky had even expressed 
surprise that Russian peasants prefer "to return to the favorite occupation of the Russian 
people, farming," instead of wanting to remain in the highly-paid military service. [Ixiv] 

In 1874 a unified regulation about universal military service had replaced the old recruit 
conscription obligation giving the Jews a "significant relief." "The text of the regulation did 
not contain any articles that discriminated against Jews. "[Ixv] However, now Jews were not 
permitted to remain in residence in the interior provinces after completion of military 
service. Also, special regulations aimed "to specify the figure of male Jewish population" 
were introduced, for to that day it largely remained undetermined and unaccounted." 
Information about abuses of law by Jews wishing to evade military service[KMl] "[Ixvi] was 
circulated to governors. In 1876 the first "measures for ensuring the proper fulfillment of 
military duty by Jews" [Ixvii] were adopted. The Jewish Encyclopedia saw "a heavy net of 
repressive measures" in them. "Regulations were issued about the registration of Jews at 
conscription districts and about the replacement of Jews not fit for service by Jews who 
were fit"; and about verification of the validity of exemptions for family conditions: for 
violation of these regulations "conscription ... of only sons was permitted."[lxviii] 

A contemporary and then influential St. Petersburg newspaper, Golos [The Voice] cites quite 
amazing figures from the official governmental "Report on the Results of Conscription in 
1880.... For all [of the Russian Empire] the shortfall of recruits was 3,309; out of this, the 
shortfall of Jews was 3,054, which amounts to 92%."[lxix] 


Shmakov, a prominent attorney, not well-disposed toward Jews, cites such statistics from 
the reference, Pravitelstvenniy Vestnik[The Government Bulletin]: for the period 1876-1883: 
"out of 282,466 Jews subject to conscription, 89,105 — that is, 31.6% — did not show up." 
(The general shortfall for the whole Empire was 0.19%.) The Administration could not help 
but notice this, and a number of "steps toward the elimination of such abuse" were 
introduced. This had an effect, but only short-term. In 1889 46,190 Jews were subjected to 
call-up, and 4,255 did not appear, that is 9.2%. But in 1891 "from a general number of 
51,248 Jews recorded on the draft list, 7,658, or 14.94%, failed to report; at that time the 
percentage of Christians not reporting was barely 2.67%. In 1892, 16.38% of Jews failed to 
report as compared with 3.18% of Christians. In 1894 6,289 Jews did not report for the draft, 
that is, 13.6%. Compare this to the Russian average of 2. 6%.[lxx] 

However, the same document on the 1894 draft states that "in total, 873,143 Christians, 
45,801 Jews, 27,424 Mohammedans, and 1,311 Pagans" were to be drafted. These are 
striking figures — in Russia, there were 8.7% Muslims (according to the 1870 count) but their 
share in the draft was only 2.9%! The Jews were in an unfavorable position not only in 
comparison with the Mohammedans but with the general population too: their share of the 
draft was assigned 4.8% though they constituted only 3.2% of Russian population (in 1870). 
(The Christian share in the draft was 92% (87% of Russian population). [Ixxi] 

From everything said here one should not conclude that at the time of the Russo-Turkish 
War of 1877-1878, Jewish soldiers did not display courage and resourcefulness during 
combat. In the journal Russkiy Evrei [The Russian Jew] we can find convincing examples of 
both virtues. [Ixxii] Yet during that war much irritation against Jews arose in the army, mainly 
because of dishonest contractor-quartermasters — and "such were almost exclusively Jews, 
starting with the main contractors of the Horovits, Greger, and Kagan Company."[lxxiii] The 
quartermasters supplied (undoubtedly under protection of higher circles) overpriced poor- 
quality equipment including the famous "cardboard soles", due to which the feet of Russian 
soldiers fighting in the Shipka Pass were frostbitten. 

In the Age of Alexander II, the half-century-old official drive to accustom the Jews to 
agriculture was ending in failure. 

After the repeal of disproportionate Jewish recruitment, farming had "immediately lost all its 
appeal" for Jews, or, in words of one government official, a "false interpretation of the 
Manifest by them" had occurred, "according to which they now considered themselves free 
of the obligation to engage in farming," and that they could now migrate freely. "The 


petitions from the Jews about resettling with the intent to work in agriculture had ended 
almost completely."[lxxiv] 

Conditions in the existing colonies remained the same if not worse: "fields ... were plowed 
and sowed pathetically, just for a laugh, or for appearance's sake only." For instance, in 1859 
"the grain yield in several colonies was even smallerthan the amount sown." In the new 
'paradigmatic' colonies, not only barns were lacking, there was even no overhangs or pens 
for livestock. The Jewish colonists leased most of their land to others, to local peasants or 
German colonists. Many asked permission to hire Christians as workers, otherwise 
threatening to cut back on sowing even further — and they were granted such a right, 
regardless of the size of the actual crop.[lxxv] 

Of course, there were affluent Jewish farmers among the colonists. Arrival of German 
colonists was very helpful too as their experience could now be adopted by Jews. And the 
young generation born there was already more accepting toward agriculture and German 
experience; they were more "convinced in the advantageousness of farming in comparison 
to their previous life in the congestion and exasperating competition ofshtetlsand 
towns." [Ixxvi] 

Yet the incomparably larger majority was trying to get awayfrom agriculture. Gradually, 
inspectors' reports became invariably monotonic: "What strikes most is the general Jewish 
dislike for farm work and their regrets about their former artisan occupations, trade, and 
business"; they displayed "tireless zeal in any business opportunity," for example, "at the 
very high point of field work ... they could leave the fields if they discovered that they could 
profitably buy or sell a horse, an ox, or something else, in the vicinity." [They had] a 
predilection for penny-wise trade," demanding, according to their "conviction, less work and 
giving more means for living." "Making money was easierfor Jews in nearby German, 
Russian, or Greek villages, where the Jewish colonist would engage in tavern-keeping and 
small trade." Yet more damaging for the arable land were long absences of the workers who 
left the area for distant places, leaving only one or two family members at home in the 
colonies, while the rest went to earn money in brokerages. In the 1860s (a half-century after 
the founding of colonies) such departure was permitted for the entire families or many 
family members simultaneously; in the colonies quite a few people were listed who had 
never lived there. After leaving the colonies, they often evaded registering with their trade 
guild in the new place, and "many stayed there for several consecutive years, with family, 
unregistered to any guild, and thus not subject to any kind of tax or obligation." And in the 
colonies, the houses built for them stood empty, and fell into disrepair. In 1861, Jews were 
permitted to maintain drinking houses in the colonies. [Ixxvii] 

Finally, the situation regarding Jewish agriculture had dawned on the St. Petersburg 
authorities in all its stark and dismal reality. Back taxes (forgiven on numerous occasions, 
such as an imperial marriage) grew, and each amnesty had encouraged Jews not to pay taxes 
or repay loans from now on. (In 1857, when the ten years granted to collect past due taxes 


had expired, five additional years were added. But even in 1863 the debt was still not 
collected.) So what was all that resettling, privileges and loans for? On the one hand, the 
whole 60-year epic project had temporarily provided Jews with means "of avoiding their 
duties before the state" while at the same time failing to instill love for agriculture among 
the colonists." "The ends were not worthy of the means." On the other hand, "simply a 
permission to live outside of the Pale, even without any privileges, attracted a huge number 
of Jewish farmers" who stopped at nothing to get there. [Ixxviii] 

If in 1858 there were officially 64,000 Jewish colonists, that is, eight to ten thousand families, 
then by 1880 the Ministry had found only 14,000, that is, less than two thousand 
families. [Ixxix] For example, in the whole Southwestern Krai in 1872 the commission 
responsible for verifying whether or not the land is in use or lay unattended had found fewer 
than 800 families of Jewish colonists. [Ixxx] 

Russian authorities had clearly seen now that the entire affairof turning Jews into farmers 
had failed. They no longer believed that "their cherished hope for the prosperity of colonies 
could be realized." It was particularly difficult for the Minister Kiselyov to part with this 
dream, but he retired in 1856. Official documents admitted failure, one after another: 
"resettlement of the Jews for agricultural occupation 'has not been accompanied by 
favorable results'." Meanwhile "enormous areas of rich productive blacktopsoil remain in 
the hands of the Jews unexploited." After all, the best soil was selected and reserved for 
Jewish colonization. That portion, which was temporarily rented to those willing, gave a 
large income (Jewish colonies lived off it) as the population in the South grew and everyone 
asked for land. And now even the worst land from the reserve, beyond that allotted for 
Jewish colonization, had also quickly risen in value. [Ixxxi] The Novorossiysk Krai had already 
absorbed many active settlers and "no longer needed any state -promoted 
colonization. "[Ixxxii] 

So the Jewish colonization had become irrelevant for state purposes. 

And in 1866 Alexander II had ordered and end to the enforcement of several laws aimed at 
turning Jews into farmers. Now the task was to equalize Jewish farmers with the rest of the 
farmers of the Empire. Everywhere, Jewish colonies turned out to be incapable of 
independent existence in the new free situation. So now it was necessary to provide legal 
means for Jews to abandon agriculture, even individually and not in whole families (1868), 
so they could become artisans and merchants. They had been permitted to redeem their 
parcels of land; and so they redeemed and resold their land at a profit. [Ixxxiii] 

However, in the dispute over various projects in the Ministry of State Property, the question 
about the reform of Jewish colonies dragged out and even stopped altogether by 1880. In 
the meantime with a new recruit statute of 1874, Jews were stripped of their recruiting 
privileges, and with that any vestiges of their interest in farming were conclusively lost. By 
1881 "in the colonies 'there was a preponderance of farmsteads with only one apartment 


house, around which there were no signs of settlement; that is, no fence, no housing for 
livestock, no farm buildings, no beds for vegetables, nor even a single tree or shrub; there 
were very few exceptions. '"[Ixxxiv] 

The state councilor Ivashintsev, an official with 40 years experience in agriculture, was sent 
in 1880 to investigate the situation with the colonies. He had reported that in all of Russia 
"no other peasant community enjoyed such generous benefits as had been given [to Jews]" 
and "these benefits were not a secret from other peasants, and could not help but arouse 
hostile feelings in them." Peasants adjacent to the Jewish colonies '"were indignant ... 
because due to a shortage of land they had to rent the land from Jews for an expensive price, 
the land which was given cheaply to the Jews by the state in amounts in fact exceeding the 
actual Jewish needs.' It was namely this circumstance which in part explained ... 'the hostility 
of peasants toward Jewish farmers, which manifested itself in the destruction of several 
Jewish settlements'" (in 1881-82). [Ixxxv] 

In those years, there were commissions allotting land to peasants from the excess land of 
the Jewish settlements. Unused or neglected sectors were taken back by the government. 
"In Volynsk, Podolsk, and Kiev guberniyas, out of 39,000 desyatins [one desyatin = 2.7 acres] 
only 4,082 remained [under Jewish cultivation]."[lxxxvi] Yet several quite extensive Jewish 
farming settlements remained: Yakshitsa in the Minsk Guberniya, not known for its rich land, 
had 740 desyatins for 46 [Jewish] families;[lxxxvii] that is, an average of 16 desyatins per 
family, something you will rarely find among peasants in Central Russia; in 1848 in Annengof 
of Mogilyov Guberniya, also not vast in land, twenty Jewish families received 20 desyatins of 
state land each, but by 1872 it was discovered that there were only ten families remaining, 
and a large part of the land was not cultivated and was choked with weeds. [Ixxxviii] In 
Vishenki of Mogilyov Guberniya, they had 16 desyatins per family;[lxxxix] and in 
Ordynovshchina of Grodno Guberniya 12 desyatins per [Jewish] family. In the more spacious 
southern guberniyas in the original settlements there remained: 17 desyatins per [Jewish] 
family in Bolshoi Nagartav; 16 desyatins per [Jewish] family in Seidemenukh; and 17 
desyatins per family in Novo-Berislav. In the settlement of Roskoshnaya in Ekaterinoslav 
Guberniya they had 15 desyatins per family, but if total colony land is considered, then 42 
desyatins per family.[xc] In Veselaya (by 1897) there were 28 desyatins per family. In 
Sagaidak, there were 9 desyatins, which was considered a small allotment.[xci] And in Kiev 
Province's Elyuvka, there were 6 Jewish families with 400 desyatins among them, or 67 
desyatins per family! And land was rented to the Germans."[xcii] 

Yet from a Soviet author of the 1920s we read a categorical statement that "Tsarism had 
almost completely forbidden the Jews to engage in agriculture."[xciii] 

On the pages which summarize his painstaking work, the researcher of Jewish agriculture V. 
N. Nikitin concludes: "The reproaches against the Jews for having poor diligence in farming, 
for leaving without official permission for the cities to engage in commercial and artisan 
occupations, are entirely justified ....We by no means deny the Jewish responsibility for such 


a small number of them actually working in agriculture after the last 80 years." Yet he puts 
forward several excuses forthem: "[The authorities] had no faith in Jews; the rules of the 
colonization were changed repeatedly"; sometimes "officials who knew nothing about 
agriculture or who were completely indifferent to Jews were sent to regulate their lives.... 
Jews who used to be independent city dwellers were transformed into villagers without any 
preparation for life in the country." [xciv] 

At around the same time, in 1884, N. S. Leskov, in a memorandum intended for yet another 
governmental commission on Jewish affairs headed by Palen, had suggested that the Jewish 
"lack of habituation to agricultural living had developed over generations" and that it is "so 
strong, that it is equal to the loss of ability in farming," and that the Jew would not become a 
plowman again unless the habit is revived gradually.[xcv] 

(Lev Tolstoy had allegedly pondered: who are those "confining the entire nation to the 
squeeze of city life, and not giving it a chance to settle on the land and begin to do the only 
natural man's occupation, farming. After all, it's the same as not to give the people airto 
breathe. ... What's wrong with ... Jews settling in villages and starting to live a pure working 
life, which, probably, this ancient, intelligent, and wonderful people has a I ready yearned 
for?..."[xcvi] — On what planet was he living? What did he know about the 80 years of 
practical experience with [Jewish] agricultural colonization?) 

And yet the experience of the development of Palestine where the Jewish settlers felt 
themselves at home had showed their excellent ability to work the land; moreover, they did 
it in conditions much more unfavorable than in Novorossiya. Still, all the attempts to 
persuade or compel the Jews toward arable farming in Russia (and afterwards in the USSR) 
had failed (and from that came the degrading legend that the Jews in general are incapable 
of farming). 

And thus, after 80 years of effort by the Russian government it turned out that all that 
agricultural colonization was a grandiose but empty affair; all the effort, all the massive 
expenditures, the delay of the development of Novorossiya — all were for nothing. The 
resulting experience shows that it shouldn't have been undertaken at all. 

Generally examining Jewish commercial and industrial entrepreneurship, I. G. Orshansky 
justly wrote at the start of the 1870s that the question about Jewish business activity is "the 
essence of the Jewish Question," on which "fate of Jewish people in any country depends." 
"[An entrepreneur] from the quick, mercantile, resourceful Jewish tribe" turns over a ruble 
five times "while a Russian turns it two times." There is stagnation, drowsiness, and 


monopoly among the Russian merchants. (For example, after the expulsion of the Jews from 
Kiev, life there had become more expensive). The strong side of Jewish participation in 
commercial life lies in the acceleration of capital turnover, even of the most insignificant 
working capital. Debunking the opinion, that so-called Jewish corporate spirit gives them a 
crucial advantage in any competition, that "Jewish [merchants] always support each other, 
having their bankers, contractors, and carriers," Orshansky attributed the Jewish corporate 
spirit only to social and religious matters, and not to commerce, where, he claimed, Jews 
fiercely compete against each other (which is in contradiction with the Hazaka prescribing 
separation of spheres of activity, which, according to him, "had gradually disappeared 
following the change in legal standing of Jews"[xcvii]). He had also contested the opinion 
that any Jewish trade does not enrich the country, that "it exclusively consists of exploitation 
of the productive and working classes," and that "the profit of the Jews is a pure loss forthe 
nation." He disagreed, suggesting that Jews constantly look for and find new sales markets 
and thereby "open new sources of earnings for the poor Christian population as well."[xcviii] 

Jewish commercial and industrial entrepreneurs hip in Russia had quickly recovered from the 
two noticeable blows of 1861, the abolition of serfdom and the abolition of wine farming. 
"The financial role of Jews had become particularly significant by the 1860s, when previous 
activities amassed capital in their hands, while liberation of peasants and the associated 
impoverishment of landowners created a huge demand for money on the part of 
landowners statewide. Jewish capitalists played a prominent role in organization of land 
banks. "[xcix] The whole economic life of the country quickly changed in many directions and 
the invariable Jewish determination, inventiveness, and capital were keeping pace with the 
changes and were even ahead of them. Jewish capital flowed, for example, to the sugar 
industry of the Southwest (so that in 1872 one fourth of all sugar factories had a Jewish 
owner, as well as one third of joint-stock sugarcompanies),[c] and to the flour-milling and 
other factory industries both in the Pale of Settlement and outside. After the Crimean War 
"an intensive construction of railroads" was underway; "all kinds of industrial and 
commercial enterprises, joint stock companies and banks arose" and "many Jews ... found 
wide application for their strengths and talents in those undertakings ...with a few of them 
getting very rich incredibly fast."[ci] 

"Jews were involved in the grain business for a long time but their role had become 
particularly significant afterthe peasant liberation and from the beginning of large-scale 
railroad construction." "Already in 1878, 60% of grain export was in the hands of Jews and 
afterwards it was almost completely controlled by Jews." And "thanks to Jewish industrialists, 
lumber had become the second most important article of Russian export (after grain)." 
Woodcutting contracts and the acquisition of forest estates by Jews were not prohibited 
since 1835. "The lumber industry and timber trade were developed by Jews. Also, Jews had 
established timber export." "The timber trade is a major aspect of Jewish commerce, and, at 
the same time, a major area of concentration of capital.... Intensive growth of the Jewish 
timber trade began in the 1860-1870s, when as a result of the abolition of serfdom, 


landowners unloaded a great number of estates and forests on the market." "The 1870s 
were the years of the first massive surge of Jews into industries" such as manufacturing, flax, 
foodstuff, leather, cabinetry, and furniture industries, while "tobacco industry had long since 
been concentrated in the hands of Jews."[cii] 

In the words of Jewish authors: "In the epoch of Alexander II, the wealthy Jewish bourgeoisie 
was ... completely loyal ... to the monarchy. The great wealth of the Gintsburgs, the 
Polyakovs, the Brads kys, the Zaitsevs, the Balakhovskys, and the Ashkenazis was amassed 
exactly at that time." As already mentioned, "the tax-farmer Evze I Gintsburg had founded his 
own bank in St. Petersburg." Samuil Polyakov had built six railroad lines; the three Polyakov 
brothers were granted hereditary nobility titles. [ciii] "Thanks to railroad construction, which 
was guaranteed and to a large extent subsidized by the government, the prominent capital 
of the Polyakovs, I. Bliokh, A. Varshavsky and others were created." Needless to say, many 
more smaller fortunes were made as well, such as that of A. I. Zaks, the former assistant to E. 
Gintsburg in tax-farming, who had moved to St. Petersburg and created the Savings and 
Loan Bank there; "he arranged jobs for his and his wife's many relatives at the enterprises he 
was in charge of." [civ] 

Not just the economy, the entire public life had been transformed in the course of 
Alexandrian reforms, opening new opportunities for mercurial Jewry. "In the government 
resolutions permitting certain groups of Jews with higher education to enter government 
service, there was no restriction in regard to movement up the job ladder. With the 
attainment of the Full State Advisor rank, a Jew could be elevated to the status of hereditary 
nobility on common grounds. "[cv] 

In 1864 the land reform began. It "affected all social classes and strata. Its statute ... did not 
in any way restrict the eligibility of Jews to vote in country administrative elections or occupy 
elected country offices. In the course of twenty-six years of the statute being in effect, Jews 
could be seen in many places among town councilors and in the municipal executive 
councils. "[cvi] 

Similarly, the judicial statutes of 1864 stipulated no restrictions for Jews. As a result of the 
judicial reform, an independent judicial authority was created, and in place of private 
mediators the legal bar guild was established as an independent class with a special 
corporate structure (and notably, even with the un-appealable right to refuse legal 
assistance to an applicant "on the basis of moral evaluation of his person," including 
evaluation of his political views). And there were no restrictions on Jews entering this class. 
Gessen wrote: "Apart from the legal profession, in which Jews had come to prominence, we 
begin noticing them in court registries among investigative officials and in the ranks of public 
prosecutors; in some places we already see Jews in the magistrate and district court offices"; 
they also served as jurors"[cvii] without any quota restrictions (during the first decades after 
the reform). (Remarkably, during civil trials the Jews were taking conventional juror's oath 
without any provision made for the Jewish religion). 


At the same time municipal reform was being implemented. Initially it was proposed to 
restrict Jewish representation among town councilors and in the municipal executive 
councils by fifty percent, but because of objections by the Minister of Internal Affairs, the 
City Statute of 1870 had reduced the maximal share to one third; further, Jews were 
forbidden from occupying the post of mayor.fcviii] It was feared "that otherwise Jewish 
internal cohesion and self-segregation would allow them to obtain a leading role in town 
institutions and give them an advantage in resolution of public issues. "[cix] On the other 
hand, Jews were equalized in electoral rights (earlier they could vote only as a faction), 
which led to "the increased influence of Jews in all city governing matters (though in the free 
city of Odessa these rules were in place from the very beginning; later, it was adopted in 
Kishinev too. "Generally speaking, in the south of Russia the social atmosphere was not 
permeated by contempt toward Jews, unlike in Poland where it was diligently 
cultivated." [cx]) 

Thus "perhaps ...the best period in Russian history for Jews" went on. "An access to civil 
service was opened for Jews.... The easing of legal restrictions and the general atmosphere 
of 'the Age of Great Reforms' had affected the spirit of the Jewish people beneficially."[cxi] It 
appeared that under the influence of the Age of Great Reforms "the traditional daily life of 
the Jewish populace had turned toward the surrounding world" and that Jewry "had begun 
participating as faras possible in the struggle for rights and liberty.... There was not a single 
area in the economic, public and spiritual life of Russia unaffected by the creative energies of 
Russian Jews. "[cxii] 

And remember that from the beginning of the century the doors of Russian general 
education were opened wide for Jews, though it took a longtime for the unwilling Jews to 

Later, a well-known lawyer and public figure, Ya. L. Teytel thus recalled the Mozyr grammar 
school of the 1860s: "The director of the school ... often ... appealed to the Jews of Mozyr, 
telling them about the benefits of education and about the desire of government to see 
more Jews in grammar schools. Unfortunately, such pleas had fallen on deaf ears."[cxiii] So 
they were not enthusiastic to enroll during the first years after the reform, even when they 
were offered free education paid for by state and when school charters (1864) declared that 
schools are open to everyone regardless confession. [cxiv] "The Ministry of National 
Education ... tried to make admission of Jews into general education institutions easier"; it 
exhibited "benevolence toward young Jewish students ."[cxv] (Here L. Deutsch had 
particularly distinguished the famous surgeon N. I. Pirogov, then a trustee of the 
Novorossiysk school district, suggesting that he had "strongly contributed to the alleviation 
of hostility among my tribesmen toward 'goyish' schools and sciences. "[cxvi]) Soon after the 
ascension of Alexander II, the Minister of Education thus formulated the government plan: 
"It is necessary to spread, by any means, the teaching of subjects of general education, while 
avoiding interference with the religious education of children, allowing parents to take care 


of it without any restrictions or hindrances on the part of government." [cxvii] Education in 
state public schools was made mandatory for children of Jewish merchants and honorary 
citizens. [cxviii] 

Yet all these measures, privileges and invitations, did not lead to a drastic increase in Jewish 
admissions. By 1863 the share of Jewish students in Russian schools reached 3.2%,[cxix] that 
is, equal to their percentage in the population of the empire. Apart from the rejection of 
Russian education by the Jewry, there was a certain influence from Jewish public leaders 
who now saw their task differently: "With the advent of the Age of Great Reforms, 'the 
friends of enlightenment' had merged the question of mass education with the question of 
the legal situation of Jews," [cxx] that is, they began struggling for the immediate removal of 
all remaining restrictions. After the shock of the Crimean War, such a liberal possibility 
seemed quite realistic. 

But after 1874, following enactment of the new military statute which "granted military 
service privileges to educated individuals," almost a magical change happened with Jewish 
education. Jews began entering public schools in mass.[cxxi] "Afterthe military reform of 
1874, even Orthodox Jewish families started sending their sons into high schools and 
institutions of higher learning to reduce their term of military service. "[cxxii] Among these 
privileges were not only draft deferral and easement of service but also, according to the 
recollections of Mark Aldanov, the possibility of taking the officer's examination "and 
receiving officer rank." "Sometimes they attained titles of nobility."[cxxiii] 

In the 1870s "an enormous increase in the number of Jewish students in public education 
institutions" occurred, leading to creation of numerous degreed Jewish intelligentsia." In 
1881 Jews composed around 9% of all university students; by 1887, their share increased to 
13.5%, i.e., one out of every seven students. In some universities Jewish representation was 
much higher: in the Department of Medicine of Kharkov University Jews comprised 42% of 
student body; in the Department of Medicine of Odessa University — 31%, and in the School 
of Law — 41%.[cxxiv] In all schools of the country, the percentage of Jews doubled to 12% 
from 1870 to 1880 (and compared to 1865, it had quadrupled). In the Odessa school district 
it reached 32% by 1886, and in some schools it was 75% and even more.fcxxv] (When D. A. 
Tolstoy, the Minister of Education from 1866, had begun school reforms in 1871 by 
introducing the Classical education standard with emphasis on antiquity, the ethnic Russian 
intelligentsia boiled over, while Jews did not mind). 

However, for a while, these educational developments affected only "the Jewish bourgeoisie 
and intelligentsia. The wide masses remained faithful ... to their cheders and yeshivas," as 
the Russian elementary school offered nothing in the way of privileges. "[cxxvi] "The Jewish 
masses remained in isolation as before due to specific conditions of their internal and 
outside life."[cxxvii] Propagation of modern universal culture was extremely slow and new 
things took root with great difficulty among the masses of people living in shtetls and towns 
of the Pale of Settlement in the atmosphere of very strict religious traditions and 


discipline. "[cxxviii] "Concentrated within the Pale of Settlement, the Jewish masses felt no 
need for the Russian language in their daily lives.... As before, the masses were still confined 
to the familiar hold of the primitive cheder education."[cxxix] And whoever had just learned 
how to read had to immediately proceed to reading the Bible in Hebrew. [cxxx] 

From the government's point of view, opening up general education to Jews rendered state 
Jewish schools unnecessary. From 1862 Jews were permitted to take posts of senior 
supervisors in such schools and so "the personnel in these schools was being gradually 
replenished with committed Jewish pedagogues, who, acting in the spirit of the time, 
worked to improve mastery of Russian language and reduce teaching of specificallyJewish 
subjects. "[cxxxi] In 1873 these specialized schools were partially abolished and partially 
transformed, some into primary specialized Jewish schools of general standard, with 3 or 6 
years study courses, and two specialized rabbinical schools in Vilna and Zhitomir were 
transformed into teacher training colleges. [cxxxii] The government ... sought to overcome 
Jewish alienation through integrated education; however, the Commission for Arranging the 
Jewish Way of Life was receiving reports both from Jewish advocates, often high-ranked, and 
from the opponents of reform who insisted that "Jews must never be treated ... in the same 
way as other ethnic groups of the Empire, that they should not be permitted unrestricted 
residence all over the country; it might be allowed only after all possible measures were 
tried to turn Jews into useful productive citizens in the places where they live now and when 
these measures would prove their success beyond any doubt."[cxxxiii] 

Meanwhile, through the shock of ongoing reforms, especially of the abolition of the 
burdensome recruiting obligation in 1856 (and through it the negation of the corresponding 
power of Jewish leaders over their communities), and then of the repeal of the associated 
special taxation in 1863, "the administrative power of the community leaders was 
significantly weakened in comparison to their almost unrestricted authority in the past" 
inherited from the Qahal (abolished in 1844), that omnipotent arbiter of the Jewish 

It was then, at the end of 1850s and during the 1860s, when the baptized Jew, Yakov 
Brafman, appeared before the government and later came out publicly in an energetic 
attempt at radical reformation of the Jewish way of life. He had petitioned the Tsar with a 
memorandum and was summoned to St. Petersburg for consultations in the Synod. He set 
about exposing and explaining the Qahal system (though a little bit late, si nee the Qahal had 
already been abolished). For that purpose he had translated into Russian the resolutions of 
the Minsk Qahal issued in the period between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 
19th centuries. Initially he published the documents in parts and later (in 1869 and 1875) as 
a compilation, The Book of Qahal, which revealed the all-encompassing absoluteness of the 
personal and material powerlessness of the community member. The book "had acquired 
exceptional weight in the eyes of the authorities and was accepted as an official guidebook; 
it won recognition (often by hearsay) in wide circles of Russian society"; it was referred to as 


the "Brafman's triumph" and lauded as an "extraordinary success. "[cxxxv] (Laterthe book 
was translated into French, German, and Polish. )[cxxxvi] The Book of Qahal managed to 
instill in a great number of individuals a fanatical hatred toward Jews as the 'worldwide 
enemy of Christians'; it had succeeded in spreading misconceptions about Jewish way of 

The 'mission' of Brafman, the collection and translation of the acts issued by the Qahal had 
"alarmed the Jewish community"; At their demand, a government commission which 
included the participation of Jewish community representatives was created to verify 
Brafman's work. Some "Jewish writers were quick to come forward with evidence that 
Brafman distorted some of the Qahal documents and wrongly interpreted others"; one 
detractor had even had doubts about their authenticity."[cxxxviii] (A century later in 1976, 
The Short Jewish Encyclopedia confirmed the authenticity of Brafman's documents and the 
good quality of his translation but blamed him for false interpretation. [cxxxix] The Russian 
Jewish Encyclopedia (1994) pointed out that "the documents published by Brafman are a 
valuable source for studying the history of Jews in Russia at the end of the 18th and the 
beginning of the 19th centuries. "[cxl] (Apropos, the poet Khodasevich was the grand- 
nephew of Brafman). 

Brafman claimed "that governmental laws cannot destroy the malicious force lurking in the 
Jewish self-administration ... According to him, Jewish self-rule is not limited to Qahals ... but 
allegedly involves the entire Jewish people all over the world ...and because of that the 
Christian peoples cannot get rid of Jewish exploitation until everything that enables Jewish 
self-segregation is eliminated." Further, Brafman "viewfed] the Talmud not as a national and 
religious code but as a 'civil and political code' going 'against the political and moral 
development of Christian nations"'[cxli] and creating a 'Talmudic republic'. He insisted that 
"Jews form a nation within a nation"; that they "do not consider themselves subject to 
national laws";[cxlii] that one of the main goals of the Jewish community is to confuse the 
Christians to turn the latter into no more than fictitious owners of their property."[cxliii] On 
a larger scale, he "accused the Society for the Advancement of Enlightenment among the 
Jews of Russia and the Alliance Israelite Universelle for their role in the 'Jewish world 
cons pi racy'." [cxliv] According to Yu. Gessen's opinion, "the only demand of The Book of 
Qahal ...was the radical extermination of Jewish self-governance" regardless of all their civil 

The State Council, "having mitigated the uncompromised style of The Book of Qahal, 
declared that even if administrative measures would succeed in erasing the outward 
differences between Jews and the rest of population, "it will not in the least eliminate the 
attitudes of seclusion and nearly the outright hostility toward Christians which thrive in 
Jewish communities. This Jewish separation, harmful for the country, can be destroyed, on 
one hand, through the weakening of social connections between the Jews and reduction of 


the abusive power of Jewish elders to the extent possible, and, on the other hand, through 
spreading of education among Jews, which is actually more important."[cxlvi] 

And precisely the latter process — education — was already underway in the Jewish 
community. A previous Jewish Enlightenment, the Has ka la h Movement of the 1840s, was 
predominantly based on German culture; they were completely ignorant of Russian culture 
(they were familiar with Goethe and Schiller but did not know Pushkin and 
Lermontov).[cxlvii] "Until the mid-19th century, even educated Jews, with rare exceptions, 
having mastered the German language, at the same time did not know the Russian language 
and literature. "[cxlviii] However, as those Maskilim sought self-enlightenment and not the 
mass education of the Jewish people, the movement died out by the 1860s. [cxlix] "In the 
1860s, Russian influences burst into the Jewish society. Until then Jews were not living but 
rather residing in Russia, [cl] perceiving their problems as completely unconnected to the 
surrounding Russian life. Before the Crimean War the Jewish intelligentsia in Russia 
acknowledged German culture exclusively but after the reforms it began gravitating toward 
Russian culture. Mastery of the Russian language "increases ... self-esteem."[cli] From now 
on the Jewish Enlightenment developed under the strong influence of the Russian culture. 
"The best ... Russian Jewish intellectuals abandoned their people no longer"; they did not 
depart into the "area of exclusively personal interests", but ca red "about making their 
people's lot easier." Well, after all, Russian literature taught that the strong should devote 
themselves to the weak.[clii] 

However, this new enlightenment of the Jewish masses was greatly complicated by the 
strong religiosity of said masses, which in the eyes of progressives was doubtlessly a 
regressive factor,[cliii] whereas the emerging Jewish Enlightenment movement was quite 
secularforthat time. Secularization of the Jewish public consciousness "was particularly 
difficult because of the exceptional role religion played in the Diaspora as the foundation of 
Jewish national consciousness over the course of the many centuries." And so "the wide 
development of secular Jewish national consciousness" began, in essence, only at the end of 
the century.[cliv] "It was not because of inertia but due to a completely deliberate stance as 
the Jew did not want risking separation from his God. "[civ] 

So the Russian Jewish intelligentsia met the Russian culture at the moment of birth. 
Moreover, it happened at the time when the Russian intelligentsia was also developing 
expansively and at the time when Western culture gushed into Russian life (Buckle, Hegel, 
Heine, Hugo, Comte, and Spencer). It was pointed out that several prominent figures of the 
first generation of Russian Jewish intelligentsia (S. Dubnov, M. Krol, G.SIiozberg, O. 
Gruzenberg, and Saul Ginzburg) were born in that period, 1860-1866[clvi] (though their 
equally distinguished Jewish revolutionary peers — M. Gots, G.Gershuni, F. Dan, Azef, and L. 
Akselrod — were also born during those years and many other Jewish revolutionaries, such 
as P. Akselrod and L. Deych, were born still earlier, in the 1850s). 


In St. Petersburg in 1863 the authorities permitted establishment of the Society for the 
Spreading of Enlightenment among the Jews in Russia (SSE) supported by the wealthy Evzel 
Gintsburg and A. M. Brodsky. Initially, during the first decade of its existence, its 
membership and activities were limited; the Society was preoccupied with publishing 
activities and not with school education; yet still its activities caused a violent reaction on 
the part of Jewish conservatives [clvii] (who also protested against publication of the 
Pentateuch in Russian as a blasphemous encroachment on the holiness of the Torah). From 
the 1870s, the SSE provided financial support to Jewish schools. Their cultural work was 
conducted in Russian, with a concession for Hebrew, but not Yiddish, which was then 
universally recognized as a 'jargon'. [clviii] In the opinion of Osip Rabinovich, a belletrist, the 
'"spoiled jargon' used by Jews in Russia cannot 'facilitate enlightenment, because it is not 
only impossible to express abstract notions in it, but one cannot even express a decent 
thought with it'."[clix] "Instead of mastering the wonderful Russian language, we Jews in 
Russia sticktoour spoiled, cacophonous, erratic, and poor jargon." [clx] (In their day, the 
German Maskilim ridiculed the jargon even more sharply.) 

And so "a new social force arose in Russian Jewry, which did not hesitate entering the 
struggle against the union ... of capital and synagogue", as expressed by the liberal Yu. I. 
Gessen. That force, nascent and for the time being weak, was the Jewish periodical press in 
the Russian language. [clxi] 

Its first-born was the Odessa magazine Rassvet [Dawn], published for two years from 1859 
to 1861 by the above-mentioned O. Rabinovich. The magazine was positioned to serve "as a 
medium for dissemination of 'useful knowledge, true religiousness, rules of communal life 
and morality'; it was supposed to predispose Jews to learn the Russian language and to 
'become friends with the national scholarship"'[clxii] Rassvet also reported on politics, 
expressing "love for the Fatherland" and the intention to promote "the government's 
views"[clxiii] with the goal "of communal living with other peoples, participating in their 
education and sharing their successes, while at the same time preserving, developing, and 
perfecting our distinct national heritage."[clxiv] The leading Rassvetpublicist, L. Levanda, 
defined the goal of the magazine as twofold: "to act defensively and offensively: defensively 
against attacks from the outside, when our human rights and confessional (religious) 
interests must be defended, and offensively against our internal enemy: obscurantism, 
everydayness, social life troubles, and our tribal vices and weaknesses. "[clxv] 

This last direction, "to reveal the ill places of the inner Jewish life," aroused a fear in Jewish 
circles that it "might lead to new legislative repressions." So the existing Jewish newspapers 
(in Yiddish) "saw the Rassvet's direction as extremely radical." Yet these same moderate 
newspapers by their mere appearance had already shaken '"the patriarchal structure' of 
[Jewish] community life maintained by the silence of the people. "[clxvi] Needless to say, the 
struggle between the rabbinate and Hasidic Judaism went on unabated during that period 
and this new 1860s' struggle of the leading publicists against the stagnant foundations of 


daily life had added to it. Gessen noted that "in the 1860s, the system of repressive 
measures against ideological opponents did not seem offensive even for the conscience of 
intelligent people." For example, publicist A. Kovner, 'the Jewish Pisarev' [a radical Russian 
writer and social critic], could not refrain from tipping off a Jewish newspaper to the 
Governor General of Novorossiysk.[clxvii] (In the 1870s Pisarev "was extremely popular 
among Jewish i nte I lectua Is ." ) [c Ixvi i i ] 

M. Aldanov thinks that Jewish participation in Russian cultural and political life had 
effectively begun at the end of the 1870s (and possibly a decade earlier in the revolutionary 
movement). [clxix] 

In the 1870s new Jewish publicists (L. Levanda, the critic S. Vengerov, the poet N. Minsky) 
began working with the general Russian press. (According to G. Aronson, Minsky expressed 
his desire to goto the Russo-Turkish War to fight for his brothers Slavs). The Minister of 
Education Count Ignatiev then expressed his faith in Jewish loyalty to Russia. Afterthe 
Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, rumors about major auspicious reforms began circulating 
among the Jews. In the meantime, the center of Jewish intellectual life shifted from Odessa 
to St. Petersburg, where new writers and attorneys gained prominence as leaders of public 
opinion. In that hopeful atmosphere, publication of Rassvetwas resumed in St. Petersburg in 
1879. In the opening editorial, M. I. Kulisher wrote: "Our mission is to be an organ of 
expression of the necessities of Russian Jews ... for promoting the awakening of the huge 
mass of Russian Jews from mental hibernation ... it is also in the interests of Russia.... In that 
goal the Russian Jewish intelligentsia does not separate itself from the rest of Russian 

Alongside the development of the Jewish press, Jewish literature could not help but advance 
—first in Hebrew, then in Yiddish, and then in Russian, inspired by the best of Russian 
literature. [clxxi] Under Alexander II, "there were quite a few Jewish authors who persuaded 
their co-religionists to study the Russian language and look at Russia as their 

Naturally, in the conditions of the 1860s-1870s, the Jewish educators, still few in numbers 
and immersed in Russian culture, could not avoid moving toward assimilation, in the same 
direction "which under analogous conditions led the intelligent Jews of Western Europe to 
unilateral assimilation with the dominant people. "[clxxiii] However, there was a difference: 
in Europe the general cultural level of the native peoples was consistently higher and so in 
Russia these Jews could not assimilate with the Russian people, still weakly touched by 
culture, nor with the Russian ruling class (who rejected them); they could only assimilate 
with the Russian intelligentsia, which was then very small in number but already completely 
secular, rejecting, among other things, their God. Now Jewish educators also tore away from 
Jewish religiosity and, "being unable to find an alternative bond with their people, they were 
becoming completely estranged from them and spiritually considered themselves solely as 
Russian citizens. "[clxxiv] 


"A worldly rapprochement between the Russian and Jewish intelligentsias" was 
developing. [clxxv] It was facilitated by the general revitalization of Jewish life with several 
categories of Jews now allowed to live outside the Pale of Settlement. Development of 
railroad communications and possibilities of travel abroad — "all this contributed to a closer 
contact of the Jewish ghetto with the surrounding world." [clxxvi] Moreover, by the 1860s 
"up to one-third ... of Odessa's Jews could speak Russian."[clxxvii] The population there grew 
quickly, "because of massive resettlement to Odessa of both Russian and foreign Jews, the 
latter primarily from Germany and Galicia ."[clxxviii] The blossoming of Odessa by the middle 
of the 19th century presaged the prosperity of all Russian Jewry toward the end of the 19th 
- to the beginning of 20th century. Free Odessa developed according to its own special laws, 
differing from the Ail-Russian statutes since the beginning of the 19th century. It used to be 
a free port and was even open to Turkish ships during the war with Turkey. "The main 
occupation of Odessa's Jews in this period was the grain trade. Many Jews were small 
traders and middlemen (mainly between the landowners and the exporters), as well as 
agents of prominent foreign and local (mainly Greek) wheat trading companies. At the grain 
exchange, Jews worked as stockbrokers, appraisers, cashiers, scalers, and loaders"; "the 
Jews were in a dominant position in grain commerce: by 1870 most of grain export was in 
their hands. In 1910 ... 89.2% of grain exports was under their control. "[clxxix] In comparison 
with other cities in the Pale of Settlement, more Jews of the independent professions lived 
in Odessa and they had better relations with educated Russian circles, and were favorably 
looked upon and protected by the high administration of the city.... N. Pirogov [a prominent 
Russian scientist and surgeon], the Trustee of the Odessa School District from 1856-1858, 
particularly patronized the Jews."[clxxx] A contemporary observer had vividly described this 
Odessa's clutterwith fierce competition between Jewish and Greek merchants, where "in 
some years half the city, from the major bread bigwigs, to the thrift store owners, lived off 
the sale of grain products." In Odessa, with her non-stop business commotion bonded by the 
Russian language, "it was impossible to draw a line, to separate clearly a 'wheat' merchant 
or a banker from a man of an intellectual profession." [clxxxi] 

Thus in general "among the educated Jews ... the process of adopting all things Russian ... 
had accelerated. "[clxxxii] "European education and knowledge of the Russian language had 
become necessities"; "everyone hurried to learn the Russian language and Russian 
literature; they thought only about hastening integration and complete blending with their 
social surroundings"; they aspired not only for the mastery of the Russian language but for 
"for the complete Russification and adoption of 'the Russian spirit', so that "the Jew would 
not differ from the rest of citizens in anything but religion." The contemporary observer M. G. 
Morgulis wrote: "Everybody had begun thinking of themselves as citizens of their homeland; 
everybody now had a new Fatherland. "[clxxxiii] "Members of the Jewish intelligentsia 
believed that 'for the state and public good they had to get rid of their ethnic traits and ... to 
merge with the dominant nationality.' A contemporary Jewish progressive wrote, that 'Jews, 
as a nation, do not exist', that they 'consider themselves Russians of the Mosaic faith. .."Jews 
recognize that their salvation lies in the merging with the Russian people' ."[clxxxiv] 


It is perhaps worth naming here Veniamin Portugalov, a doctor and publicist. In his youth he 
harbored revolutionary sentiments and because of that he even spent some time as a 
prisoner in the Peter and Paul Fortress. From 1871 he lived in Samara. He "played a 
prominent role in development of rural health service and public health science. He was one 
of the pioneers of therapy for alcoholism and the struggle against alcohol abuse in Russia." 
He also organized public lectures. "From a young age he shared the ideas of Narodniks [a 
segment of the Ruslsian intelligentsia, who left the cities and went to the people ('narod') in 
the villages, preaching on the moral right to revolt against the established order] about the 
pernicious role of Jews in the economic life of the Russian peasantry. These ideas laid the 
foundation for the dogmas of the Judeo-Christian movement of the 1880s" (The Spiritual 
Biblical Brotherhood). Portugalov deemed it necessary to free Jewish life from ritualism, and 
believed that "Jewry could exist and develop a culture and civilization only after being 
dissolved in European peoples" (he had meant the Russian [people]). [clxxxv] 

A substantial reduction in the number of Jewish conversions to Christianity was observed 
during the reign of Alexander II as it became unnecessary after the abolishment of the 
institution of military cantonists and the widening of Jewish rights. [clxxxvi] And from now on 
the sect of Skhariya the Jew began to be professed openly too. [clxxxvi i] 

Such an attitude on the part of affluent Jews, especially those living outside the Pale of 
Settlement and those with Russian education, toward Russia as undeniably a homeland is 
noteworthy. And so it had to be noticed and was. "In view of the great reforms, all 
responsible Russian Jews were, without exaggeration, patriots and monarchists and adored 
Alexander II. M. N. Muravyov, then Governor General of the Northwest Krai famous for his 
ruthless ness toward the Poles [who rebelled in 1863], patronized Jews in the pursuit of the 
sound objective of winning the loyalty of a significant portion of the Jewish population to the 
Russian state. "[clxxxviii] Though during the Polish uprising of 1863 Polish Jewry was mainly 
on the side of the Poles;[clxxxix] "a healthy national instinct prompted" the Jews of the 
Vilnius, Kaunas, and Grodno Guberniyas "to side with Russia because they expected more 
justice and humane treatment from Russians than from the Poles, who, though historically 
tolerating the Jews, had always treated them as a lower race."[cxc] (This is how Ya. Teitel 
described it: "The Polish Jews were always detached from the Russian Jews"; they looked at 
Russian Jews from the Polish perspective. On the other hand, the Poles in private shared 
their opinion on the Russian Jews in Poland: "The best of these Jews are our real enemy. 
Russian Jews, who had infested Warsaw, Lodz, and other major centers of Poland, brought 
with them Russian culture, which we do not like.")[cxci] 

In those years, the Russification of Jews on its territory was "highly desirable" for the Tsarist 
government.fcxcii] Russian authorities recognized "socialization with Russian youth ... as a 
sure method of re-education of the Jewish youth to eradicate their 'hostility toward 
Christians'. "[cxciii] 


Still, this newborn Russian patriotism among Jews had clear limits. The lawyer and publicist I . 
G. Ors ha nsky specified that to accelerate the process "it was necessary to create conditions 
for the Jews such that they could consider themselves as free citizens of a free civilized 
country." [cxciv] The above-mentioned Lev Levanda, 'a Jewish scholar' living under the 
jurisdiction of the Governor of Vilnius, then wrote: "I will become a Russian patriot only 
when the Jewish Question is resolved conclusively and satisfactory." A modern Jewish 
author who experienced the long and bitter 20th century and then had finally emigrated to 
Israel, replied to him looking back across the chasm of a century: "Levanda does not notice 
that one cannot lay down conditions to Motherland. She must be loved unconditionally, 
without conditions or pre-conditions; she is loved simply because she is the Mother. This 
stipulation — love under conditions — was extremely consistently maintained by the 
Russian-Jewish intelligentsia for one hundred years, though in all other respects they were 
ideal Russians"[cxcv] 

And yet in the described period "only small and isolated groups of Jewry became integrated 
into 'Russian civil society; moreover, it was happening in the larger commercial and 
industrial centers ... leading to the appearance of an exaggerated notion about victorious 
advance of the Russian language deep into Jewish life," all the while "the wide Jewish 
masses were untouched by the new trends ... isolated not only from the Russian society but 
from the Jewish intelligentsia as well."[cxcvi] In the 1860s and 1870s, the Jewish people en 
masse were still unaffected by assimilation, and the danger of the Jewish intelligentsia 
breaking away from the Jewish masses was real. (In Germany, Jewish assimilation went 
smoother as there were no "Jewish popular masses" there — the Jews were better off 
socially and did not historically live in such crowded enclaves). [cxcvii] 

However, as early as the end of the 1860s, some members of the Jewish intelligentsia began 
voicing opposition to such a conversion of Jewish intellectuals into simple Russian patriots. 
Perets Smolensky was the first to speak of this in 1868: that assimilation with the Russian 
character is fraught with 'national dangeK for the Jews; that although education should not 
be feared, it is necessary to hold on to the Jewish historical past; that acceptance of the 
surrounding national culture still requires perservation of the Jewish national 
character[cxcviii]; and that the Jews are not a religious sect, but a nation. "[cxcix] So if the 
Jewish intelligentsia withdraws from its people, the latter would never liberate itself from 
administrative oppression and spiritual stupor. (The poet I. Gordon had put it this way: "Be a 
man on the street and a Jew at home.") 

The St. Petersburg journals Rassvet (1879-1882) and RusskiyEvrei [Russian Jew] had already 
followed this direction. [cc] They successfully promoted the study of Jewish history and 
contemporary life among Jewish youth. At the end of the 1870s and the beginning of the 
1880s, cosmopolitan and national directions in Russian Jewry became distinct. [cci] "In 
essence, the owners of Rassvet had already abandoned the belief in the truth of 
assimilation.... Rassvet unconsciously went by the path ... of the awakening of ethnic identity 


... it was clearly expressing aJewish national bias.... The illusions of Russification ... were 

The general European situation of the latter half of the 19th century facilitated development 
of national identity. There was a violent Polish uprising, the war for the unification of Italy, 
and then of Germany, and later of the Balkan Slavs. The national idea blazed and triumphed 
everywhere. Obviously, these developments would continue among the Jewish intelligentsia 
even without the events of 1881-1882. 

Meanwhile, in the 1870s, the generally favorable attitudes of Russians toward Jews, which 
had developed during the Alexandrian reforms, began to change. Russian society was 
concerned with Brafman's publications, which were taken quite seriously. 

All this coincided with the loud creation of the Alliance Israelite Universelle in Paris in 1860; 
its goal was "to defend the interests of Jewry" all over the world; its Central Committee was 
headed by Adolphe Cremieux. [cciii] "Insufficiently well-informed ... about the situation of 
Jews in Russia," the Alliance "took interest in Russian Jewry" and soon "began consistently 
working on behalf of Russian Jews." The Alliance did not have Russian branches and did not 
function within Russia. Apart from charitable and educational work, the Alliance, in 
defending Russian Jews, several times addressed Russian government directly, though often 
inappropriately. (For example, in 1866 the Alliance appealed to prevent the execution of 
Itska Borodai who was convicted of politically motivated arson. However, he was not 
sentenced to death at all, and other Jews implicated in the affairwere acquitted even 
without the petition. In another case, Cremieux protested against the resettlement of Jews 
to the Caucasus and the Amur region — although there was no such Russian government 
plan whatsoever. In 1869 he again protested, this time against the nonexistent persecution 
of Jews in St. Petersburg. [cciv] Cremieux had also complained to the President of the United 
States about similarly nonexistent persecutions against the Jewish religion by the Russian 
government). Nevertheless, according to the report of the Russian ambassador in Paris, the 
newly-formed Alliance (with the Mosaic Tablets over the Earth on its emblem) had already 
enjoyed "extraordinary influence on Jewish societies in all countries." All this alarmed the 
Russian government as well as Russian public. Yakov Brafman actively campaigned against 
the Universal Jewish Alliance. He claimed that the Alliance, "like all Jewish societies, is 
double-faced (its official documents proclaim one thing while the secret ones sayanother)" 
and that the task of the Alliance is "to shield the Jewry from the perilous influence of 
Christian civilization." [ccv] As a result, the Society for the Spreading of Enlightenment among 
the Jews in Russia was also accused of having a mission "to achieve and foster universal 
Jewish solidarity and caste-like seclusion. "[ccvi]) 

Fears of the Alliance were also nurtured by the very emotional opening proclamation of its 
founders "to the Jews of all nations" and by the dissemination of false Alliance documents. 
Regarding Jewish unity the proclamation contained the following wording: "Jews! ... If you 
believe that the Alliance is good for you, that while being the parts of different nations you 


nevertheless can have common feelings, desires, and hopes ... if you think that your 
disparate efforts, good aspirations and individual ambitions could become a major force 
when united and moving in one direction and toward one goal ...then please support us 
with your sympathy and assistance. "[ccvii] 

Later in France a document surfaced containing an alleged proclamation "To Jews of the 
Universe" byAldolphe Cremieux himself. It was very likely a forgery. Perhaps it was one of 
the drafts of the opening proclamation not accepted by the Alliance founders. However it 
had resonated well with Brafman's accusations of the Alliance having hidden goals: "We live 
in alien lands and we cannot take an interest in the variable concerns of those nations until 
our own moral and material interests are endangered ... the Jewish teachings must fill the 
entire world...." Heated arguments were exchanged in this regard in Russian press. I. S. 
Aksakov concluded in his newspaper Rus that "the question of the document under 
discussion being ... a falsehood is rather irrelevant in this case because of veracity of the 
expressed herein Jewish views and aspirations. "[ccviii] 

The pre-revolutionary Jewish Encyclopedia writes that from the 1870s "fewer voices were 
heard in defense of Jews" in the Russian press. "The notion of Jews allegedly united under 
the aegis of a powerful political organization administered by the Alliance Israelite 
Universelle was taking root in Russian society." [ccix] Thus the foundation of the Alliance 
produced in Russia (and possibly not only in Russia) a reaction counterproductive to the 
goals that the Alliance had specified. 

If the founders of the Alliance could have foreseen the sheerscale of condemnations against 
the idea of worldwide Jewish solidarity and even the accusations of conspiracy which had 
erupted after the creation of the organization, they might have refrained from following that 
route, especially considering that the Alliance did not alter the course of Jewish history. 

After 1874, when a new military charter introducing the universal military service obligation 
in Russia came into force, "numerous news article on draft evasion by Jews began fueling 
resentment against the Jews in the Russian society ."[ccx] The Alliance Israelite Universelle 
was accused of intending "to care about young Jews leaving Russia to escape conscription 
enforced by the new law" so that "using support from abroad, the Jews would have more 
opportunities than other subjects to move out of the country." (This question would arise 
once again precisely a century later in the 1970s.) Cremieux replied that the mission of the 
Alliance was "the struggle against religious persecution" and that the Alliance had decided 
"henceforth not to assist Jews trying to evade military obligation in Russia." Ratherit would 
issue "an appeal to our co-religionists in Russia in order to motivate them to comply with all 
the requirements of the new law."[ccxi] 

Besides crossing the border, another way to evade military service was self-mutilation. 
General Denikin (who was quite a liberal before and even during the revolution) described 
hundreds of bitter cases of the self-mutilation he personally sawduring several years of 


service at the military medical examination board inVolyn Guberniya. Such numerous and 
desperate self-injuries are all the more striking considering that it was already the beginning 
of the 20th century.[ccxii] 

As previously mentioned, the influx of Jews into public schools, professional schools and 
institutions of higher learning had sharply increased after 1874 when a new military charter 
stipulating educational privileges came into force. This increase was dramatic. While calls to 
restrict Jewish enrollment in public education institutions were heard from the 
Northwestern Krai even before, in 1875, the Ministry of Public Education informed the 
government that it was impossible to admit all Jews trying to enter public educational 
institutions without constraining the Christian population."[ccxiii] 

It is worth mentioning here the G. Aronson's regretful note that even D. Mendeleev of St. 
Petersburg University "showed anti-Semitism. "[ccxiv] The Jewish Encyclopedia summarizes 
all of the 1870s period as "a turnaround in the attitudes of a part of Russian intelligentsia ... 
which rejected the ideals of the previous decade especially in regard to ... the Jewish 
Question. "[ccxv] 

An interesting feature of that time was that it was the press (the rightist one, of course) and 
not governmental circles that was highly skeptical (and in no way hostile) towards the 
project of full legal emancipation of the Jews. The following quotes are typical. How can "all 
the citizenship rights be granted to this ... stubbornly fanatical tribe, allowing them to occupy 
the highest administrative posts? ... Only education ... and social progress can truly bring 
together Jews and Christians.... Introduce them into the universal family of civilization, and 
we will be the first to say words of love and reconciliation to them." " Civilization will 
generally benefit from such a rapprochement as the intelligent and energetic tribe will 
contribute much to it. The Jews ... will realize that time is ripe to throw off the yoke of 
intolerance which originates in the overly strict interpretations of the Talmud." "Until 
education brings the Jews to the thought that it is necessary to live not only at the expense 
of Russian society but also for the good of this society, no discussion could be held about 
granting them more rights than those they have now." "Even if it is possible to grant the 
Jews all civil rights, then in any case they cannot be allowed into any official positions 'where 
Christians would be subject to their authority and where they could have influence on the 
administration and legislation of a Christian country.'" [ccxvi] 

The attitude of the Russian press of that time is well reflected in the words of the prominent 
St. Petersburg newspaper Golos: "Russian Jews have no right to complain that the Russian 
press is biased against their interests. Most Russian periodicals favor equal civil rights for 
Jews;" it is understandable "that Jews strive to expand their rights toward equality with the 
rest of Russian citizens"; yet ... "some dark forces drive Jewish youth into the craziness of 
political agitation. Why is that only a few political trials do not list Jews among defendants, 
and, importantly, among the most prominent defendants? ... That and the common Jewish 
practice of evading military service are counterproductive for the cause of expanding the 


civil rights of Jews"; "one aspiring to achieve rights must prove beforehand his ability to 
fulfill the duties which come with those rights" and "avoid putting himself into an extremely 
unfavorable and dismal position with respect to the interests of state and society." [ccxvii] 

Yet, the Encyclopedia notes, "despite all this propaganda, bureaucratic circles were 
dominated by the idea that the Jewish Question could only be resolved through 
emancipation. For instance, in March 1881 a majority of the members of the Commission for 
Arranging the Jewish Way of Life tended to think that it was necessary to equalize the Jews 
in rights with the rest of the population. "[ccxviii] Raised during the two decades of 
Alexandrian reforms, the bureaucrats of that period were in many respects taken by the 
reforms' triumphant advances. And so proposals quite radical and favorable to Jews were 
put forward on several occasions by Governors General of the regions constituting the Pale 
of Settlement. 

Let's not overlook the new initiatives of the influential Sir Moses Montefiore, who paid 
another visit to Russia in 1872; and the pressure of both Benjamin Disraeli and Bismarck on 
Russian State Chancellor Gorchakov at the Berlin Congress of 1878. Gorchakov had to 
uneasily explain that Russia was not in the least against religious freedom and did grant it 
fully, but "religious freedom should not be confused with Jews having equal political and civil 
rights. "[ccxix] 

Yet the situation in Russia developed toward emancipation. And when in 1880 the Count 
Loris-Melikov was made the Minister of the Interior with exceptional powers, the hopes of 
Russian Jews for emancipation had become reallygreat and well-founded. Emancipation 
seemed impending and inevitable. 

And at this very moment the members of Narodnaya Volya assassinated Alexander II, thus 
destroying in the bud many liberal developments in Russia, among them the hopes for full 
Jewish civil equality. 

Sliozberg noted that the Tsar was killed on the eve of Purim. After a series of attempts, the 
Jews were not surprised at this coincidence, but they became restless about the 
future, [ccxx] 


[i] Evreyskaya Entsiklopediya [The Jewish Encyclopedia] (henceforth —EE [JE] ): V 16 T. Sankt-St. Petersburg.: 
Obshchestvodlya Nauchnikh Evreyskikh Izdaniy i Izd-vo Brokrauz-Efron [Society forScientificJewish 
Publications and Brokrauz-Efron Publishing House], 1906-1913. T 13, p. 373-374. 

[i i] EE* [JE], T 3, p. 163. 

[iii] I bid. Til, p. 698; Yu Gessen*. Istoriya evreyskogo naroda v Rossi i [History of the Jewish People in Russia] 
(henceforth-Yu. Gessen): V 2T. L, 1925-1927. T2, p. 160. 

[iv] Kratkaya Evreyskaya Entsiklopedia [TheShort Jewish Encyclopedia] (henceforth KEE [SJE] ): [V 10 T.] 
Jerusalem, 1976-2001. T4, p. 79. 


[v] Yu. Gessen. T2, p. 183. 

[vi] M. Kovalevskiy*. Ravnopravieevreyev i ego vragi [Jewish Equal Rights and its Opponents] // Shchit: 
Literaturniy sbornik [Shchit: A Literary Anthology] / Under the Editorship of L. Andreyev, M Gor'kiy, and F. 
Sologub. 3rd Edition., dop. M.: RusskoeObshchestvo dly izucheniya evreyskoy zhizni [Russian Society forthe 
Study of Jewish Life], 1916, p. 117-118. 

[vi i ] EE [JE], Tl, p. 812-813. 

[viii] Ibid. p. 808. 

[ix] Ibid. p. 814-815; Yu Gessen*, T 2, p. 147-148. 

[x] Yu Gessen, 12, p. 163. 

[xi] Yu Gessen, T 2, p. 164. 

[xii] Ibid. p. 161-162. 

[xiii] I.Orshanskiy. Evrei v RossikOcherki i issledovaniya [The Jews in Russia:Essays and Research]. Vip. 1 
(henceforth— I. Orshanskiy). Sankt-St. Petersburg., 1872, p. 10-11. 

[xiv] V.N. Nikitin. Evrei zemledel'tsi: Istoricheskoe, zakonodatel'noe, administrativnoe i bitovoe polozhenie 
kolonii co vremeni ikh vozniknoveniya do nashikh dney 1807-1887 [Jewish Farmers: the Historical, Legal, 
Administrative, and Everyday Condition of the Colonies, from the Time of Their Origin to Our Days. 1807-1887]. 
(henceforth— V.N. Nikitin). Sankt-St. Petersburg, 1887, p. 557. 

[xv] EE [JE], T 5, p. 610-611. 

[xvi] Ibid.T 13, p. 663. 

[xvii] lbid*,T5, p. 622. 

[xviii] Yu. Larin. Evrei i antisemitizmv SSSR [The Jews and Anti-Semitism in the USSR]. Moscow; Leningrad: GIZ, 
1929, p. 49. 

[xix] I. Orshanskiy, p. 193. 

[xx] G.B. Sliozberg. Dela minuvshikh dney: Zapiski russkogo evreya [Affairs ofthe Past: the Notes of a Russian 
Jew] (henceforth-G.B. Sliozberg): V 3T. Paris, 1933-1934. Tl, p. 95. 

[xxi] EE*, Til, p. 495. 

[xxii] L. Deych. Rol' evreyev v russkom revolyutsionnomdvizhenii [The Role of the Jews in the Russian 
Revolutionary Movement]. T 1. Second Edition. Moscow,; Leningrad.: GIZ, 1925, p. 14, 21-22. 

[xxii i] Ibid. p. 28. 

[xxiv] A.A. Gal'denveyzer. Pravovoe polozhenie evreyev v Rossii // [Sb.] Kniga o russkom evreystve: Otl860-kh 
godov do Revolyutsii 1917g [The Legal Position ofthe Jews in Russia // [Anthology] The Book of Russian Jewry: 
from the 1860s to the Revolution of 1917]. (henceforth — KRE-1). New York: Soyuz Russkikh Evreyev [Union of 
Russian Jews], 1960, p. 119. 

[xxv] Yu Gessen. T2, p. 143. 

[xxvi] EE [JE], T 1, p. 813. 


[xxvii] Yu.Gessen*, T2, p. 144-145;EE [JE] T 1, p. 813. 

[xxviii] YuGessen, T2, p. 158. 

[xxix] Yu Gessen, T 2, p. 144, 154-155. 

[xxx] EE [JE], Tl, p. 817. 

[xxxi] KEE [SJE], T4, p. 255. 

[xxxii] Sm.: M. Kovalevskiy//Shchit, p. 118. 

[xxxiii] EE [JE], T 1, p. 818; Til, p. 458-459;T14, p. 841. 

[xxxiv] Yu Gessen, T2, p. 150. 

[xxxv] Ibid*, p. 148. 

[xxxvi] Ibid, p. 150. 

[xxxvii] Ibid. p. 169. 

[xxxviii] Yu Gessen, T2, p. 208. 

[xxxix] EE [JE], T 15, p. 209; T 1, p. 824. 

[xl] Perezhitoe: Sbornik, posvyashchenniy obshchestvennoy i kul'turnoy istorii evreyev v Rossii [Past 
Experiences: An Anthology Dedicated to the Social and Cultural History of the Jews in Russia]. T2, Sankt-St. 
Petersburg, 1910, p. 102. 

[xli] G.B. Sliozberg,T 1, p. 137. 

[xlii] KEE [SJE], T7, p. 327. 

[xl i ii] EE [JE], T 1, p. 819. 

[xliv] Also,T13, p. 943-944. 

[xlv] I.M. Trotskiy. Samodeyatel'nost i samopomoshch' evreyev v Rossii [The Individual Initiativeand Self-Help 
of the Jews in Russia] (OPE, ORT, EKO, OZE, EKOPO)// KRE-1, p. 471. 

[xlvi]Yu. Gessen. T2, p. 210. 

[xlvii] EE [JE], T 13, p. 947; KEE [SJE], T4, p. 770. 

[xlviii] KEE [SJE], T5, p. 473. 

[xlix]Also,T4, p. 255. 

[I] Yu Gessen. T 2, p. 159-160,210. 

[I i] Also, p. 159. 

[I ii] B.Ts. Dinur. Religiozno-natsional'niy oblik russkogo evreystva [The Rel igious -National Look of Russian Jewry] 
//KRE-1, p. 311-312. 

[liii] EE [JE], T12, p. 640. 


[liv] Yu Gessen, T 2, p. 161. 
[Iv] Also. 
[Ivi] Also. 

[Ivii] Yu.Orshanskiy, p. 12. 

[Iviii] I. Orshanskiy, p. 1-15. 

[lix] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 224-225. 

[Ix] EE [JE], T 3, p. 83-84. 

[Ixi] EE* [JE], T 7, p. 301-302. 

[Ixii] G.B. Sliozberg,T 2, p. 155-156. 

[Ixiii] EE [JE], T3, p. 164. 

[Ixiv] I. Orshanskiy, p. 65-68. 

[lxv]KEE [SJE], T 7, p. 332. 

[lxvi]EE [JE], T 1, p. 824. 

[lxvii]Also*,T3, p. 164. 

[lxviii]Also,Tl, p. 824; KEE [SJE], T7, p. 332. 

[lxix]Golos [The Voice], 1881, No46, 15 (27) February, p. 1. 

[Ixx] A. Shmakov. "Evreyskie" rechi ["Jewish" Questions]. Moscow, 1897, p. 101-103. 

[Ixxi] Entsiklopedicheskiy slovar' [Encyclopedic Dictionary]: V 82 T. Sankt-St. Petersburg.: Brokgauz i Efron, 
1890-1904. T54, p. 86. 

[Ixxii] EE [JE], T3, p. 164-167. 

[I xxi i i] G.B. SI i ozberg, T 1, p. 116. 

[lxxiv]V.N. Nikitin*,p. 448,483, 529. 

[Ixxv] Also*, p 473, 490, 501, 506-507,530-531, 537-538, 547-548, 667. 
[Ixxvi] Also, p. 474-475, 502, 547. 

[lxxvii]V.N. Nikitin*,p. 502-505,519,542,558,632,656,667. 
[lxxviii]Also*,p.473, 510, 514,529-533,550, 572. 
[Ixxix] Also, p. 447, 647. 
[Ixxx] EE [JE], T7, p. 756. 

[lxxxi]V.N. Nikitin*, p. 478-479,524, 529-533,550-551. 
[Ixxxii] EE [JE], T 7, p. 756. 


[Ixxxiii] V.N. Nikitin, p. 534, 540, 555, 571, 611-616, 659. 

[Ixxxiv] V.N. Nikitin, p. 635, 660-666. 

[lxxxv]Also*, p. 658-661. 

[lxxxvi]EE[JE], T7, p. 756. 

[Ixxxvii] Also,T16, p. 399. 

[Ixxxviii] Also,T2, p. 596. 

[Ixxxix] Also,T5, p. 650. 

[xc] Also,T 13, p. 606. 

[xci] Also,T 5, p. 518; T 13, p. 808. 

[xcii]Also,T16,p. 251. 

[xciii] Yu Larin. Evrei i antisemitizm v SSSR [The Jews and Antisemitism in the USSR], p. 36. 
[xciv]V.N. Nikitin, p. xii-xiii. 

[xcv] N.S. Leskov. Evrei v RossikNeskol'kozamechaniypo evreyskomu voprosu [The Jews in Russia:Several 
Observations on the Jewish Question]. Pg., 1919 [reprint s izd. 1884], p. 61, 63. 

[xcvi]L.N. Tolstoyo evreyakh / Predisl . O.Ya. Pergamenta [L.N. Tolstoy on the Jews / Foreword O.Ya. 
Pergamenta], Sankt-PeterburgSt. Petersburg.: Vremya [Time], 1908, p. 15. 

[xcvii]EE[JE], T15,p. 492. 

[xcviii] I. Orshanskiy, p. 71-72, 95-98, 106-107, 158-160. 
[xcix] EE [JE], T13, p. 646. 

[c] I.M. Dizhur. Evrei v ekonomicheskoy zhizni Rossii [TheJews inthe EconomicLife of Russia] // KRE-1, p. 168; 
EE [JE], T 13, p.662. 

[ci]L. Deych. Rol' evreyev...[The Role of the Jews..], T 1, p. 14-15. 

[cii] EE [JE], T 13, p. 647, 656-658, 663-664; G.B. SI iozberg, T 3, p. 93;KEE [SJE], T 7, p. 337. 

[ciii] M.A. Aldanov. Russkie evrei v 70-80-kh godakh: Istoricheskiy etyud [The Russian Jews in the 1870-1880s: 
An Historical Essay] //KRE-1, p. 45-46. 

[civ] G.B. Sliozberg, T 1, p. 141-142. 

[cv] KEE [SJE], T 7, p. 328, 331. 

[cvi]EE [JE], T7, p. 762. 

[cvii]Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 168. 

[cviii] Also, p. 168. 

[cix] Also, p. 206. 


[cx] EE [JE], T6, p. 712, 715-716. 

[cxi]Also,T 13, p. 618. 

[cxii] KRE-1, Predislovie [Foreword], p. iii-iv. 

[cxiii] Y.L Teytel'. Iz moey zhizni za 40 let [From My Life of 40 Years]. Paris: Y. Povolotskiy and Company, 1925, p. 

[cxiv] I.M. Trots kiy. Evrei v russkoy shkole [The Jews in Russian School] //KRE-1, p. 354. 

[cxv] Yu. Gessen.T 2, p. 179. 

[cxvi] L. Deych. Rol' evreyev..., T 1, p. 14. 

[cxvii]EE[JE]*, T13, p. 48. 

[cxviii] Also, p. 49. 

[cxix] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 179. 

[cxx] EE [JE], T13, p. 48. 

[cxxi] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 208 

[cxxii]KEE[SJE], T7, p. 333. 

[cxxiii] M.A. Aldanov// KRE-1, p. 45. 

[cxxiv] I.M. Trots kiy. Evrei v russkoy shkole [The Jews in Russian Schools] // KRE-1, p. 355-356. 
[cxxv] EE [JE], T13, p. 50. 

[cxxvi] I.M. Trots kiy. Evrei v russkoy shkole [The Jews in Russian Schools] // KRE-1, p. 355-356. 
[cxxvii]EE [JE], T13, p. 618. 

[cxxviii] G.Ya. Aronson. V bor'be za grazhdanskie i natsional'nieprava:Obshchestvennietecheniya v russkom 
evreystve [In the Struggle for Civil and National Rights: Social Currents in Russian Jewry]// KRE-1, p. 207. 

[cxxix] Yu. Gessen. T 2, p. 178, 180. 

[cxxx]Ya.G. Frumkin. Iz istorii russkogo evreystva : Vospominaniya, materiali, dokumenti [From the History of 
Russian Jewry: Memoirs, Materials, and Documents] // KRE-1, p. 51. 

[cxxxi]Yu. Gessen, T2, p. 180. 

[cxxxii]EE[JE], Tl, p. 823. 

[cxxxiii] Yu Gessen*, T 2, p. 205. 

[cxxxiv] Also, p. 170. 

[cxxxv] Also, p. 200-201. 

[cxxxvi]KEE[JEE], T 1, p. 532. 


[cxxxvii]Yu.Gessen, T2, p. 200-201. 
[cxxxviii] EE [JE], T4, p. 918. 
[cxxxix]KEE [SJE], T 1, p. 532. 

[cxI] Rossiyskaya Evreyskaya Entsiklopediya [The Russian Jewish Encyclopedia] (henceforth REE). Moscow, 
1994-...T1, p. 164. 

[cxli] Yu. Gessen. T 2, p. 200-201. 

[cxlii] EE [JE], T4, p. 918, 920. 

[cxliii] KEE[SJE], T 1, p. 532. 

[cxliv]REE [RJE], Tl, p. 164. 

[cxlv] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 202. 

[cxlvi]Also*,p. 202-203. 

[cxlvii] S.M.SIiozberg. O russko-evreyskoy intelligentsia [On the Russo-Jewish lntelligentsia]//Evreyskiy mir: 
Ezhegodnik na 1939g. [Jewish World:Yearbook for 1939] (henceforth — EM-1 [JW-1]). Paris:Ob'edinenie 
russko-evreyskoy intelligentsia [Association of the Russo-Jewish Intelligentsia], p. 34. 

[cxlviii] EE [JE], T 3, p. 334. 

[cxlix] Yudl. Mark. Literatura na idish v Rossi i [Literature in Yiddish in Russia] //KRE-1, p. 521; G.Ya. Aronson. 
Russko-Evreyskaya pechat' [Russo-Jewish Press]// Also, p. 548. 

[cl] B. Orlov. Ne te vi uchili alfaviti//Vremya i mi: Mezhdunarodniy zhurnal literaturei obshchestvennikh 
problem (henceforth-VM). Tel'-Aviv, 1975, Nol, p. 130. 

[cli] M. Osherovich. Russkieevrei v Soedinennikh Shtatakh Ameriki [Russian Jews in the United States of 
America] // KRE-1, p. 289-290. 

[clii]S.M.SIiozberg// EM-1, p. 35. 

[cliii] G.Ya. Aronson*. Vbor'be za...[lnthe Struggle for...] // KRE-1, p 210. 

[cliv]S.Shvarts. Evrei vSovetskom Soyuze c nachala Vtoroy mirovoyvoyni. 1939-1965 [TheJews inthe Soviet 
Union from the Start of the Second World War. 1939-1965]. New York: Amerikanskiy evreyskiy rabochiy 
komitet [American Jewish Workers Committee], 1966, p. 290. 

[civ] I.M. Bikerman. K samopoznaniyu evreya: Chem mi bili, c hem mi stali, chem mi dolzhni bit'. [What We 
Were, What We Became, and WhatWe Should Be]. Paris, 1939, p. 48. 

[clvi] K. Leytes. Pamyati M.A. Krolya [The Memoirs of M.A Krol']// Evreyskiy mir [Jewish World]: Anthology 2 
(henceforth EM-2 [JW-2]). New York: Soyuz russkikh evreyev v N'yu Yorke [Union of Russian Jews in New York], 
1944, p. 408-411. 

[clvii] EE [JE], T13, p. 59. 

[clviii] I.M. Trotskiy.Samodeyatel'nost'... [Individual Initiative.. .]// KRE-1, p. 471-474. 
[clix]Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 172. 


[clx] EE [JE]*, T3, p. 335. 
[clxi]Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 170. 

[clxiii] G.Ya. Aronson*. Russko-Evreyskaya pechat' [Russo-Jewish Press]// KRE-1, p. 562. 

[clxiv] S.M. Ginzburg* // EM-1 [JW-1], p. 36. 

[clxv]Yu. Gessen*, T 2, p. 173. 

[clxvi] Also*, p. 174. 

[clxvii] Also, p. 174-175. 

[clxviii] EE [JE], T 3, p. 480. 

[clxix]M.A. Aldanov// KRE-1, p. 44. 

[clxx] G.Ya. Aronson*. Russko-evreyskaya pechat' [Russo-Jewish Press] // KRE-1, p. 558-561. 

[clxxi] M. Krol'. Natsionalizm i assimilyatsiya vevreyskoy istorii [National ism and Assimilation in Jewish History] 
//EM-1 [JW-1], p. 188-189. 

[clxxii] James Parkes.The Jew and his Neighbor: a Study of the Causes of anti -Semitism. Paris: YMCA-Press, 
1932, p. 41. 

[clxxiii] Yu Gessen, T 2, p. 198. 
[clxxiv] Also, 
[clxxv] Also, p. 177. 
[clxxvi] EE [JE], T13, p. 638. 

[clxxvii] G.Ya. Aronson. Russko-Evreyskaya pechat' [Russo-Jewish Press]// KRE-1, p. 551. 
[clxxviii] KEE[SJE], T 6, p. 117. 
[clxxix] Also, p. 117-118. 
[clxxx] Also, p. 118. 

[clxxxi] K. Itskovich. Odessa-khlebniy gorod [Odessa— City of Bread] // Novoe russkoeslovo [The New Russian 
Word], New York, 1984, 21 March, p. 6. 

[clxxxii] EE [JE], T3, p. 334-335. 

[clxxxiii]Also*,T13, p. 638. 

[clxxxiv] G.Ya. Aronson. V bor'be za...[lnthe Struggle for...] // KRE-1, p. 207. 
[clxxxv] KEE [SJE], T 6, p. 692-693. 
[clxxxvi]EE, Til, p. 894. 


[clxxxvii] KEE [SJE], T2, p. 510. 

[clxxxviii] V.S. Mandel'. Konservativnie i razrushitel'nieelemente v evreystve [Conservative and Destructive 
Elements in Jewry] // Rossiya i evrekSb. 1 [Russia and the Jews: Anthology 1 (henceforth — RiE [RandJ]) / 
Otechestvennoe obedinenie russkikh evreyev za granitsey [The Patriotic Union of Russian Jews Abroad]. Paris: 
YMCA-Press, 1978 [1st Publication — Berlin: Osnova, 1924], p. 195. 

[clxxxix] I.M.Trotskiy. Evrei v russkoy shkole [The Jews in Russian School s]//KRE-l, p. 356. 

[cxc]V.S. Mandel'// RiE [RandJ], p. 195. 

[cxci] Ya. Teytel'. Izmoey zhizni...[From My Life...], p. 239. 

[cxcii] See.: EE [JE], T 3, p. 335; and others. 

[cxciii]Yu.Gessen, T2, p. 208. 

[cxci v] EE [JE], T3, p. 335. 

[cxcv]B. Orlov//VM, 1975, Nol, p. 132. 

[cxcvi]Yu. Gessen, T2, p. 181. 

[cxcvii]G.Ya.Aronson. V bor'be za...[lnthe Struggle for...]// KRE-1, p. 208-209. 
[cxcviii]Yu. Gessen, T2, p. 198-199. 
[cxcix] EE [JE], T 3, p. 336. 
[cc]Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 232-233. 

[cci] S.M. Ginzburg. Nastroeniya evreyskoy molodezhi v 80-kh godakh proshlogo stoletiya.// EM-2, p. 380. 

[ccii] G.Ya. Aronson. Russko-evreyskaya pechat' [Russo-Jewish Press]// KRE-1, p. 561-562. 

[cciii] EE [JE], T 1, p. 932; KEE [SJE], T 1, p. 103. 

[cciv] EE [JE], Tl, p. 945-950. 

[ccv] Also, p. 948-950. 

[ccvi]Also*,T2, p. 742. 

[ccvii]Also,Tl, p. 933-936. 

[ccviii] EE [JE], T 1, p. 950-951; I.S. Aksakov.Soch. [Essays].: V7 T Moscow., 1886-1887. T 3, p. 843-844. 
[ccix] EE [JE], T2, p. 738. 
[ccx] Also, p. 738-739. 
[ccxi]Also,Tl, p. 948-949. 

[ccxii] A.I. Den i kin. Put' russkogo ofitsera [The Path of a Russian Officer]. New York: Publisher-named-Chekov, 
1953, p. 284. 

[ccxiii] EE [JE], T13, p. 50-51. 


[ccxiv]G.Ya. Aronson. Russko-evreyskaya pechet' [Russo-Jewish Press]// KRE-1, p. 558. 
[ccxv] EE [JE], T12, p. 525-526. 
[ccxvi]EE [JE]*, T 2, p. 736, 740. 

[ccxvii] Golos [The Voice], 1881, No46, 15 (27) February, p. 1. 
[ccxviii] EE [JE], T2, p. 740. 
[ccxix]Also,T4, p. 246, 594. 
[ccxx] G.B. Sliozberg, T 1, p. 99. 


Chapter 5: After the murder of Alexander II 

The murder of the Tsar- Libera tor, Alexander II, shocked the people's consciousness - 
something the Narodovol'tsi intended, but that has been intentionally or unintentionally 
ignored by historians with the passing of decades. The deaths of heirs or tsars of the 
previous century - Aleksei Petrovich, Ivan Antonovich, Peter III, and Paul - were violent, but 
that was unknown to the people. The murder of March 1st, 1881, caused a panic in minds 
nationwide. For the common people, and particularly for the peasant masses it was as if the 
very foundations of their lives were shaken. Again, as the Narodovol'tsi calculated, this could 
not help but invite some explosion. 

And an explosion did occur, but an unpredictable one: Jewish pogroms in Novorossiya and 

Six weeks after the regicide, the pogroms of Jewish shops, institutions, and homes "suddenly 
engulfed a vast territory, with tremendous, epidemic force. "[1] "Indeed, it was rather 
spontaneous. ... Local people, who, for the most different reasons desired to get even with 
the Jews, posted incendiary posters and organized basic cadres of pogromists, which were 
quickly joined by hundreds of volunteers, who joined without any exhortation, caught up in 
the generally wild atmosphere and promise of easy money. In this there was something 
spontaneous. However, ... even the crowds, fueled by alcohol, while committing theft and 
violence, directed their blows in one direction only: in the direction of the Jews - the 
unruliness only stopping at the thresholds of Christian homes. "[2] 

The first pogrom occurred in Elizavetgrad, on 15 April. "Disorder intensified, when peasants 
from the neighboring settlements arrived, in order to profit off the goods of the Jews." At 
firstthe military did not act, because of uncertainty; finally "significant cavalry forces 
succeeded in ending the pogrom." [3] "The arrival of fresh forces put an end to the 
pogrom."[4] "There was no rape and murder in this pogrom. "[5] According to other sources: 
"one Jew was killed. The pogrom was put down on 17 April by troops, who fired into the 
crowd of thugs. "[6] However, "from Elizavetgrad the stirring spread to neighboring 
settlements; in the majority of cases, the disorders were confined to plundering of taverns." 
And after a week, a pogrom occurred in the Anan'evskiy Uezd [district] of Odessa Guberniya 
[province], then in Anan'ev itself, "where it was caused by some petty bourgeois, who 
spread a rumor that the Tsar was killed by Jews, and that there was an official order for the 
massacre of Jews, but the authorities were hiding this. "[7] On 23 April there was a brief 
pogrom in Kiev, but it was soon stopped with military forces. However, in Kiev on 26 April a 
new pogrom broke out, and by the following day it had spread to the Kiev suburbs - and this 
was the largest pogrom in the whole chain of them; but they ended without human 
fatalities."[8] (Another tome of the same Encyclopedia reports the opposite, that "several 
Jews were ki Med." [9]) 


After Kiev, pogroms took place again in approximately fifty settlements in the Kiev 
Guberniya, during which "property of the Jews was subjected to plunder, and in isolated 
cases battery occurred." At the end of the same April a pogrom took place in Konotop, 
"caused mainly by workers and railroad hands, accompanied by one human fatality; in 
Konotop there were instances of self-defense from the Jewish side." There was still an echo 
of the Kiev Pogrom inZhmerinka, in "several settlements of Chernigov Guberniya;" at the 
start of May, in the small town of Smel, where "it was suppressed with arriving troops the 
next day" ("an apparel store was plundered"). With echoes in the course of May, at the start 
of summer pogroms still broke out in separate areas in Ekaterinoslav and Poltava guberniyas 
(Aleksandrovsk, Romni, Nezhin, Pereyaslavl, and Borisov). Insignificant disorders took place 
somewhere in Melitopol Uezd. There were cases, when peasants immediately compensated 
Jews for their losses. "[10] 

"The pogrom movement in Kishinev, which began on 20 April, was nipped in the bud. "[11] 
There were no pogroms in all of Byelorussia - not in that year, nor in the following years, [12] 
although in Minsk a panic started among the Jews during rumors about pogroms in the 
Southwestern Krai - on account of a completely unexpected occurrence. [13] 

And next in Odessa. Only Odessa already knew Jewish pogroms in the 19th Century - in 1821, 
1859, and 1871. "Those were sporadic events, caused mainly by unfriendliness toward Jews 
on the part of the local Greek population,"[14] that is, on account of the commercial 
competition of the Jews and Greeks; in 1871 there was a three-day pogrom of hundreds of 
Jewish taverns, shops, and homes, but without human fatalities. 

I.G. Orsha nskiy writes in more detail about this pogrom, and states, that Jewish property was 
being intentionally destroyed: heaps of watches from the jewelers - they did not steal them, 
but carried them out to the roadway and smashed them. He agrees that the "nerve center" 
of the pogrom was hostility toward the Jews on the part of the Greek merchants, particularly 
owing to the fact, that after the Crimean War the Odessa Jews took the grocery trade and 
colonial commodities from the Greeks. But there was "a general dislike toward the Jews on 
the part of the Christian population of Odessa. ... This hostility manifested far more 
consciously and prominently among the intelligent and affluent class than among the 
common working people." You see, however, that different peoples get along in Odessa; 
"why then did only Jews arouse general dislike toward themselves, which sometimes turns 
into severe hatred?" One high school teacher explained to his class: "The Jews are engaged 
in incorrect economic relations with the rest of population." Orshanskiy objects that such an 
explanation removes "the heavy burden of moral responsibility." He sees the same reason in 
the psychological influence of Russian legislation, which singles out the Jews, namely and 
only to place restrictions on them. And in the attempt of Jews to break free from restrictions, 
people see "impudence, insatiableness, and grabbing."[15] 

As a result, in 1881 the Odessa administration, already having experience with pogroms - 
which other local authorities did not have - immediately put down disorders which were 


reignited several times, and "the masses of thugs were placed in vessels and dragged away 
from the shore"[16] - a highly resourceful method. (In contradiction to the pre -revolutionary, 
the modern Encyclopedia writes, that this time the pogrom in Odessa continued for three 
days). [17] 

The pre-revolutionary Encyclopedia recognizes, that "the government considered it 
necessary to decisively put down violent attempts againstthe Jews";[18] so it was the new 
Minister of Interior Affairs, Count N.P. Ignatiev, (who replaced Loris-Melikov in May, 1881), 
who firmly suppressed the pogroms; although it was not easy to cope with rising 
disturbances of "epidemic strength" - in view of the complete unexpectedness of events, 
the extremely small number of Russian police at that time (Russia's police force was then 
incomparably smaller than the police forces in the West European states, much less than 
those in the Soviet Union), and the rare stationing of military garrisons in those areas. 
"Firearms were used for defense of the Jews against pogromists."[19] There was firing in the 
crowd, and [people] were shot dead. For example, in Borisov "soldiers shot and killed several 
peasants."[20] Also, in Nezhin "troops stopped a pogrom, by opening fire at the crowd of 
peasant pogromists; several people were killed and wounded. "[21] In Kiev 1,400 people 
were arrested. [22] 

All this together indicates a highly energetic picture of enforcement. But the government 
acknowledged its insufficient preparedness. An official statement said that during the Kiev 
pogrom "the measures to restrain the crowds were not taken with sufficient timeliness and 
energy."[23] In a report to His Majesty in June 1881 the Director of the Police Department, 
V.K. Plehve, named the fact that courts martial "treated the accused extremely leniently and 
in general dealt with the matter quite superficially" as "one of the reasons for the 
development and insufficiently quick suppression of the disorders'" Alexander III made a 
note in the report: "This is inexcusable. "[24] 

But forthwith and later it did not end without accusations, that the pogroms were arranged 
by the government itself-a completely unsubstantiated accusation, much less absurd, since 
in April 1881 the same liberal reformer Loris Melikov headed the government, and all his 
people were in power in the upper administration. After 1917, a group of researchers - S. 
Dubnov, G. Krasniy-Admoni, and S. Lozinskiy -thoroughly searched for the proof in all the 
opened government archives - and only found the opposite, beginning with the fact that, 
Alexander III himself demanded an energetic investigation. (But to utterly ruin Tsar 
Alexander Ill's reputation a nameless someone invented the malicious slander: that the Tsar 
- unknown to anyone, when, and under what circumstances - said: "And I admit, that I 
myself am happy, when they beat Jews!" And this was accepted and printed in emigre 
liberation brochures, it went into liberal folklore, and even until now, after 100 years, it has 
turned up in publications as historically reliable. [25] And even in the Short Jewish 
Encyclopedia: "The authorities acted in close contact with the arrivals," [26] that is, with 
outsiders. And it was 'clear' to Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana that it was "obvious": all matters 


were in the hands of the authorities. If "they wanted one - they could bring on a pogrom; if 
they didn't want one - there would be no pogrom. ")[27] 

As a matter of fact, not only was there no incitement on the part of the government, but as 
Gessen points out: "the rise of numerous pogrom brigades in a short time in a vast area and 
the very character of their actions, eliminates the thought of the presence of a single 
organizational center." [28] 

And here is another contemporary, living testimony from a pretty much unexpected quarter 
- from The Black Repartition's Worker's Leaflet; that is, a proclamation to the people, in 
June 1881. The revolutionary leaflet thus described the picture: "Not only all the governors, 
but all other officials, police, troops, priests, zemstvo [elected district councils], and 
journalists - stood up for the Kulak-Jews. ..The government protects the person and property 
of the Jews"; threats are announced by the governors "that the perpetrators of the riots will 
be dealt with according to the full extent of the law.. .The police looked for people who were 
in the crowd [of pogromists], arrested them, dragged them to the police station. ..Soldiers 
and Cossacks used the rifle butt and the whip. ..they beat the people with rifles and 
whips. ..some were prosecuted and locked up in jail or sent to do hard labor, and others were 
thrashed with birches on the spot by the police."[29] 

Next year, in the spring of 1881, "pogroms renewed but already not in the same numbers 
and not in the same scale as in the previous year."[30] "The Jews of the city of Balta 
experienced a particularly heavy pogrom," riots also occurred in the Baltskiy Uezd and still in 
a few others. "However, according to the number of incidents, and according to their 
character, the riots of 1882 were significantly inferior to the movement of 1881 - the 
destruction of the property of Jews was not so frequent a phenomenon. "[31] The pre- 
revolutionary Jewish Encyclopedia reports, that at the time of the pogrom in Balta, one Jew 
was killed. [32] 

A famous Jewish contemporary wrote: in the pogroms of the 1880s, "they robbed unlucky 
Jews, and they beat them, but they did not kill them. "[33] (According to other sources, 6-7 
deaths were recorded.) At the time of the 1880 - 1890s, no one remembered mass killings 
and rapes. However, more than a half-century passed -and many publicists, not having the 
need to delve into the ancient [official] Russian facts, but then having an extensive and 
credulous audience, now began to write about massive and premeditated atrocities. For 
example, we read in Max Raisin's frequently published book: that the pogroms of 1881 led 
to the "rape of women, murder, and maiming of thousands of men, women, and children. It 
was later revealed, that these riots were inspired and thought out by the very government, 
which had incited the pogromists and hindered the Jews in their self-defense."[34] 

A G.B. Sliozberg, so rationally familiar with the workings of the Russian state apparatus - 
suddenly declared out-of-country in 1933, that the pogroms of 1881 originated not from 
below, but from above, with Minister lgnatiev(who at that time was still not Minister -the 


old man's memory failed him), and "there was no. ..doubt, that threads of the work of the 
pogrom could be found in the Department of Police"[35] - thus the experienced jurist 
afforded himself dangerous and uglygroundlessness. 

And yes, here in a serious present-day Jewish journal - from a modern Jewish author we find 
that, contrary to all the facts and without bringing in new documents: that in Odessa in 1881 
a "three-day pogrom" took place; and that in the Balta pogrom there was "direct 
participation of soldiers and police"; "40 Jews were killed and seriously wounded, 170 lightly 
wounded. "[36] (We just read in the old Jewish Encyclopedia: in Balta one Jew was killed, and 
wounded - several. But in the new Jewish Encyclopedia, after a century from the events, we 
read: in Balta "soldiers joined the pogromists... Several Jews were killed, hundreds wounded, 
many women were raped. "[37]) Pogroms are too savage and horrible a form of reprisal, for 
one to so lightly manipulate casualty figures. 

There - spattered, basted - is it necessary to begin excavations again? 

The causes of those first pogroms were persistently examined and discussed by 
contemporaries. As early as 1872, after the Odessa pogrom, the General -Governor of the 
Southwestern Krai warned in a report, that similarevents could happen in his Krai also, for 
"here the hatred and hostility toward Jews has an historical basis, and only the material 
dependence of the peasants upon Jews together with the measures of the administration 
currently holds back an indignant explosion of the Russian population against the Jewish 
tribe." The Genera I -Governor reduced the essence of the matter to economics, as he 
"reckoned and evaluated the business and manufacturing property in Jewish hands in the 
Southwestern Krai, and pointed to the fact, that, being increasingly engaged in the rent of 
landed estates, the Jews have re-rented and shifted this land to the peasants on very difficult 
terms." And such a causation "received wide recognition in 1881 which was full of 
pogroms ."[38] 

In the spring of 1881, Loris-Melikov also reported to His Majesty: "The deep hatred of the 
local population toward the Jews who enslave it lies at the foundation of the present 
disorders, but ill-intentioned people have undoubtedly exploited this opportunity." [39] 

And thus explained the newspapers of the time: "Examining the causes which provoked the 
pogroms, only a few organs of the periodical press refer to the tribal and religious hatred; 
the rest think that the pogrom movement arose on economic grounds; in so doing, some see 
a protest in the unruly behaviors directed specially againstthe Jews, in light of their 
economic dominance over the Russian population". Yet others maintained that the mass of 
the people, in general squeezed economically, "looked for someone to vent their anger out 
on" and the Jews fit this purpose because of their having little rights. [40] A contemporary of 
these pogroms, the cited educator, V. Portugalov, also said "In the Jewish pogroms of the 
1880s, I saw an expression of protest by the peasants and the urban poor against social 
injustice." [41] 


Ten years later, Yu. I. Gessen emphasized, that "the Jewish population of the southern 
Guberniyas" in general was able to "find sources of livelihood among the Jewish capitalists, 
while the local peasantry went through extremely difficult times" as it did not have enough 
land, "to which the wealthy Jews contributed in part, byre-renting the landowner's lands 
and raising the rental fee beyond the ability of the peas ants ."[42] 

Let us not leave out still another witness, known for his impartiality and thoughtful ness, 
whom no one accused of being "reactionary" or of "anti-Semitism" -Gleb Uspenskiy. At the 
beginning of the 1980s, he wrote: "The Jews were beaten up, namely because they amassed 
a fortune on other people's needs, other people's work, and did not make bread with their 
own hands"; "under canes and lashes. see, the people endured the rule of the Tatar and 
the German but when the Yid began to harass the people for a ruble - they did not take 
it!" [43] 

But we should note that when soon after the pogroms a deputation of prominent Jews from 
the capital, headed by Baron G. Gintsburg, came to Alexander III at the beginning of May 
1881, His Majesty confidently estimated that "in the criminal disorders in the south of Russia, 
the Jews served only as a pretext, that this business was the hand of the anarchists. "[44] And 
in those same days, the brother of the Tsar, the Grand Prince Vladimir Alexandrovich, 
announced to the same Gintsburg, that: "the disorders, as is now known by the government, 
have their sources not exclusively agitation against the Jews, but an aspiration to the work of 
sedition in general." And the General-Governor of the Southwestern Krai also reported, that 
"the general excited condition of the population is the responsibility of propagandists. "[45] 
And in this the authorities turned out to be well-informed. Such quick statements from them 
reveal that the authorities did not waste time in the investigation. But because of the usual 
misunderstanding of the Russian administration of that time, and its incomprehension of the 
role of publicity, they did not report the results of the investigation to the public. Sliozberg 
blames that on the central authority in that it did not even make "attempts to vindicate itself 
of accusations of permitting the pogroms. "[46] (True, but after a II, it accused the 
government, as we saw, of deliberate instigation and guidance of the pogroms. It is absurd 
to start with proof that you are not a criminal.) 

Yet not everyone wanted to believe that the incitements came from the revolutionaries. 
Here a Jewish memoirist from Minsk recalls: for Jews, Alexander II was not a "Liberator" - he 
did not do away with the Jewish Pale of Settlement, and although the Jews sincerely 
mourned his death, they did not say a single bad word against the revolutionaries; they 
spoke with respect about them, that they were driven by heroism and purity of thought. And 
during the spring and summer pogroms of 1881, they did not in any way believe that the 
socialists incited toward them: it was all because of the new Tsar and his government. "The 
government wished for the pogroms, it had to have a scapegoat." And now, when reliable 
witnesses from the South later indeed confirmed that the socialists engineered them, they 
continued to believe that it was the fault of the government. [47] 


However, toward the start of the 20th Century, thorough authors admitted: "In the press 
there is information about the participation of separate members of the party, Narodnaya 
Vol'ya [People's Will] in the pogroms; but the extent of this participation is still not clear. ... 
Judging by the party organ, members of the party considered the pogroms as a sort of 
revolutionary activity, suggesting that the pogroms were training the people for 
revolutionary action";[48] "that the action which was easiest of all to direct against the Jews 
now, could, in its further development, come down on the nobles and officials. Accordingly, 
proclamations calling foran attack on the Jews were prepared." [49] Today, it is only 
superficially talked about, like something generally known: "the active propaganda of the 
Narodniks (both members of Narodnaya Vol'ya and the Black Repartition was prepared to 
stir rebellion to any fertile soil, including anti-Semitism. "[50] 

From emigration, Tkachev, irrepressible predecessor of Lenin in conspiratorial tactics, 
welcomed the broadening pogrom movement. 

Indeed, the Narodovol'tsi (and the weaker Chemoperedel'tsi [members of Black Repartition) 
could not wait much longer after the murder of the Tsar which did not cause instantaneous 
mass revolution which had been predicted and expected by them. With such a state of 
general bewilderment of minds after the murder of the Tsar- Libera tor, only a slight push was 
needed for the reeling minds to re-incline into any direction. 

In that generally unenlightened time, that re-inclination could probably have happened in 
different ways. (For example, there was then such a popular conception, that the Tsarwas 
killed by nobles, in revenge for the liberation of the peasants.) In Ukraine, anti-Jewish 
motives existed. Still, it is possible the first movements of spring 1881 anticipated the plot of 
the Narodovol'tsi - but right then and there they suggested which way the wind would blow: 
it went against the Jews - never lose touch with the people! A movement from the heart of 
the masses - Of course! Why not use it? Beat the Jews, and later we will get to the 
landowners! And now the unsuccessful pogroms in Odessa and Ekaterinoslavwere most 
likely exaggerated by the Narodniks. And the movement of the pogromists along the 
railroads, and participation of the railroad workers in the pogroms - everything points to the 
instigation of pogroms by easily mobile agitators, especially with that particularly inciting 
rumor that "they are hiding the order of the Tsar," namely to beat the Jews for the murder 
of his father. (The public prosecutor of the Odessa Judicial Bureau thus emphasized, "that, in 
perpetrating the Jewish pogroms, the people were completely convinced of the legality of 
their actions, firmly believing in the existence of a Tsar's decree, allowing and even 
authorizing the destruction of Jewish property." [51] And according to Gessen, "the 
realization that had taken root in the people, that the Jews stood outside of the law, and 
that the authorities defending the Jews could not come out against the people"[52] - had 
now taken effect. The Narodovol'tsi wanted to use this imaginary notion.) 

A few such revolutionary leaflets are preserved for history. Such a leaflet from 30 August 
1881 is signed by the Executive Committee of the Narodnaya Vol'ya and reads straight away 


in Ukrainian: "Who seized the land, forests, and taverns? - The Yid - From whom, muzhik 
[peasant], do you have to askfor access to your land, attimes hiding tears?. ..From Yids. - 
Wherever you look, wherever you ask- the Yids are everywhere. The Yid insults people and 
cheats them; drinks their blood". ..and it concludes with the appeal: "Honest working people! 
Free yourselves!. .."[53] And later, in the newspaper, Narodnaya Vol'ya, No. 6: "All attention 
of the defending people is now concentrated, hastily and passionately, on the merchants, 
tavern keepers, and moneylenders; in a word, on the Jews, on this local "bourgeoisie," who 
avariciously rob working people like nowhere else." And after, in a forward to a leaflet of the 
Narodnaya Vol'ya (already in 1883), some "corrections": "the pogroms began as a 
nationwide movement, 'but not against the Jews as Jews, but against Yids; that is, exploiter 
peoples. "'[54] And in the said leaflet, Zerno, the Chemoperedel'tsi: "The working people 
cannot withstand the Jewish robbery anymore. Wherever one goes, almost everywhere he 
runs into the Jew-Kulak. The Jew owns the taverns and pubs; the Jew rents land from the 
landowners, and then re-rents it at three times higher to the peasant; he buys the wholesale 
yields of crop and engages in usury, and in the process charges such interest rates, that the 
people outright call them "Yiddish [rates]". .."This is our blood!" said the peasants to the 
police officials, who came to seize the Jewish property back from them." But the same 
"correction" is in Zerno: "...and far from all among the Jews are wealthy.. .not all of them are 
kulaks. ..Discard with the hostility toward differing peoples and differing faiths" - and unite 
with them "against the common enemy": the Tsar, the police, the landowners, and the 
capitalists. [55] 

However these "corrections" already came late. Such leaflets were later reproduced in 
Elizavetgrad and other cities of the South; and in the "South Russian Worker's Soviet" in Kiev, 
where the pogroms were already over, the Narodniks tried to stirthem up again in 1883, 
hoping to renew, and through them - to spread the Russian-wide revolution. 

Of course, the pogrom wave in the South was extensively covered in the contemporary press 
in the capital. In the "reactionary" Moskovskiye Vedomosti, M.N. Katkov, who always 
defended the Jews, branded the pogroms as originating with "malicious intriguers," "who 
intentionally darkened the popular consciousness, forcing people to solve the Jewish 
Question, albeit not by a path of thorough study, but with the help of "raised fists. "[56] 

The articles by prominent writers stand out. I.S. Aksakov, a steadfast opponent of complete 
civil liberty for the Jews, attempted to warn the government "against too daring steps" on 
this path, as early as the end of the 1850s. When a law came out allowing Jews with higher 
degrees to be employed in the administration, he objected (1862) saying that the Jews are 
"a bunch of people, who completely reject Christian teachings, the Christian ideal and code 
of morality (and, therefore, the entire foundation of Russian society), and practice a hostile 
and antagonistic faith." He was against political emancipation of the Jews, though he did not 
reject their equalization in purely civil rights, in order that the Jewish people could be 
provided complete freedom in daily life, self-management, development, enlightenment, 


commerce, and even allowing them to reside in all of Russia." In 1867 he wrote, that 
economically speaking "we should talk not about emancipation for Jews, but rather about 
the emancipation of Russians from Jews." He noted the blank indifference of the liberal 
press to the conditions of peasant's life and their needs. And now Aksakov explained the 
wave of pogroms in 1881 as a manifestation of the popular anger against "Jewish yoke over 
the Russian local people"; that's why during the pogroms, there was "an absence of theft," 
only the destruction of property and "a kind of simple-hearted conviction in the justness of 
their actions"; and he repeated, that it was worth putting the question "not about Jews 
enjoying equal rights with Christians, but about the equal rights of Christians with Jews, 
about abolishing factual inequality of the Russian population in the face of the Jews. "[57] 

On the other hand, an article by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin was full of indignation: "The history 
has never drawn on its pages a question more difficult, more devoid of humanity, and more 
tortuous, than the Jewish Question. ..There is not a more inhumane and mad legend than 
that coming out from the dark ravines of the distant past.. .carrying the mark of disgrace, 
alienation, and hatred. ..Whatever the Jew undertakes, he always remains stigmatized."[58] 
Shchedrin did not deny, "that a significant contingent of moneylenders and exploiters of 
various kinds are enlisted from the Jews," but he asked, can we really place blame on the 
whole Jewish tribe, on account of one type?[59] 

Examining the whole discussion of that time, a present-day Jewish author writes: "the liberal, 
and conditionally speaking, progressive press was defending the thugs. "[60] And the pre- 
revolutionary Jewish Encyclopedia comes to a similarconclusion: "Yet in the progressive 
circles, sympathies toward the woes of the Jewish people were not displayed sufficiently 
...they looked at this catastrophe from the viewpoint of the aggressor, presenting him as 
destitute peasant, and completely ignoring the moral sufferings and material situation of the 
mobbed Jewish people." And even the radical Patriotic Notes evaluated it thus: the people 
rose up against the Jews because "they took upon themselves the role of pioneers of 
Capitalism, because they live according to the new truth and confidently draw their own 
comfortable prosperity from that new source at the expense of the surrounding community," 
and therefore, "it was necessary that 'the people are protected from the Jew, and the Jew 
from the people', and for this the condition of the peasant needs to be improved. "[61] 

In A Letter from a Christian on the Jewish Question, published in the Jewish magazine 
Rassvet, D. Mordovtsev, a writer sympathetic to the Jews, pessimistically urged the Jews "to 
emigrate to Palestine and America, seeing only in this a solution to the Jewish Question in 

Jewish social-political journalism and the memoirs of this period expressed grievance 
because the printed publications against the Jews, both from the right and from the 
revolutionary left, followed immediately after the pogroms. Soon (and all the more 
energetically because of the pogroms) the government would strengthen restrictive 
measures against the Jews. It is necessary to take note of and understand this insult. 


It is necessary to thoroughly examine the position of the government. The general solutions 
to the problem were being sought in discussions in government and administrative spheres. 
In a report to His Majesty, N.P. Ignatiev, the new Minister of Internal Affairs, outlined the 
scope of the problem for the entire previous reign: "Recognizing the harm to the Christian 
population from the Jewish economic activity, their tribal exclusivity and religious fanaticism, 
in the last 20 years the government has tried to blend the Jews with the rest of the 
population using a whole row of initiatives, and has almost made the Jews equal in rights 
with the native inhabitants." However, the present anti-Jewish movement "incontrovertibly 
proves, that despite all the efforts of the government, the relations between the Jews and 
the native population of these regions remain abnormal as in the past," because of the 
economic issues: afterthe easing of civil restrictions, the Jews have not only seized 
commerce and trade, but they have acquired significant landed property. "Moreover, 
because of their cohesion and solidarity, they have, with few exceptions, directed all their 
efforts not toward the increase of the productive strength of the state, but primarily toward 
the exploitation of the poorest classes of the surrounding population." And now, after we 
have crushed the disorders and defended the Jews from violence, "it seems 'just and urgent 
to adopt no less energetic measures for the elimination of these abnormal 
conditions. ..between the native inhabitants and the Jews, and to protect the population 
from that harmful activity of the Jews. "'[63] 

And in accordance with that, in November 1881, the governmental commissions, comprised 
of "representatives of all social strata and groups (including Jewish), were established in 15 
guberniyas of the Jewish Pale of Settlement, and also in Kharkov Guberniya.[64] The 
commissions ought to examine the Jewish Question and propose their ideas on its 
resolution."[65] It was expected that the commissions will provide answers on many factual 
questions, such as: "In general, which aspects of Jewish economic activity are most harmful 
for the way of life of the native population in the region?" Which difficulties hinder the 
enforcement of laws regulating the purchase and rental of land, trade in spirits, and usury by 
Jews? Which changes are necessary to eliminate evasion of these laws by Jews? "Which 
legislative and administrative measures in general are necessary to negate the harmful 
influence of the Jews" in various kinds of economic activity?[66] The liberal "Palenskaya" 
inter-ministerial "High Commission" established two years laterfor the revision of laws on 
the Jews, noted that "the harm from the Jews, their bad qualities, and traits" were 
somewhat recognized a priori in the program that was given to the provincial 
commissions. [67] 

Yet many administrators in those commissions were pretty much liberal as they were 
brought up in the stormy epoch of Tsar Alexander ll's reforms, and moreover, public 
delegates participated also. And Ignatiev's ministry received rather inconsistent answers. 
Several commissions were in favor of abolishing the Jewish Pale of Settlement. "Individual 
members [of the commissions] -and they were not few" - declared that the only just 
solution to the Jewish Question was the general repeal of all restrictions. [68] On the other 


hand, the Vilnius Commission stated that "because of mistakenly understood notion of 
universal human equality wrongly applied to Judaism to the detriment of the native people, 
the Jews managed to "seize economic supremacy"; that the Jewish law permits [them] "to 
profit from any weakness and gullibility of gentile." "Let the Jews renounce their seclusion 
and isolation, let them reveal the secrets of their social organization allowing light where 
only darkness appeared to outsiders; and only then can one think about opening new 
spheres of activity to the Jews, without fear that Jews wish to use the benefits of the nation, 
[while] not being members of the nation, and not taking upon themselves a share of the 
national burden. "[69] 

"Regarding residence in the villages and hamlets, the commissions found it necessary to 
restrict the rights of the Jews": to forbid them to live there altogether or to make it 
conditional upon the agreement of the village communities. Some commissions 
recommended completely depriving the Jews of the right to possess real estate outside of 
the cities and small towns, and others proposed establishing restrictions. The commissions 
showed the most unanimity in prohibiting any Jewish monopoly on alcohol sales in villages. 
The Ministry gathered the opinions of the governors, and "with rare exceptions, comments 
from the regional authorities were not favorable to the Jews": to protect the Christian 
population "from so haughty a tribe as the Jews"; "one can never expect the Jewish tribe to 
dedicate its talents. the benefit of the homeland"; "Talmudic morals do not place any 
obstacles before the Jews if it is a question of making money at the expense of someone 
outside of the tribe." Yet the Kharkov Genera I -Governor did not consider it possible to take 
restrictive measures against the whole Jewish population, "without distinguishing the lawful 
from the guilty"; he proposed to "expand the right of movement for Jews and spread 
enlightenment among them."[70] 

That same autumn, by Ignatiev's initiative, a special "Committee on the Jews" was 
established (the ninth by count already, with three permanent members, two of them 
professors), with the task of analyzing the materials of the provincial commissions and in 
order to draft a legislative bill. [71] (The previous "Commission for the Organization of the 
Life of the Jews" - that is, the eighth committee on Jews, which existed since 1872 - was 
soon abolished, "due to mismatch between its purpose and the present state of the Jewish 
Question.") The new Committee proceeded with the conviction that the goal of integrating 
the Jews with the rest of the population, toward which the government had striven for the 
last 25 years, had turned out to be unattainable. [72] Therefore, "the difficulty of resolving 
the complicated Jewish Question compels [us] to turn for the instruction to the old times, 
when various novelties did not yet penetrate neither ours, nor foreign legislations, and did 
not bring with them the regrettable consequences, which usually appear upon adoption of 
new things that are contrary to the national spirit of the country." From time immemorial 
the Jews were considered aliens, and should be considered as such. [73] 


Gessen comments: "the reactionary could not go further". And if you were so concerned 
about the national foundations then why you didn't worry about genuine emancipation of 
the peasantry during the past 20 years? 

And it was also true that Tsar Alexander ll's emancipation of the peasants proceeded in a 
confused, unwholesome and corrupt environment. 

However: "in government circles there were still people, who did not consider it possible, in 
general, to change the policy of the preceding reign" [74] - and they were in important posts 
and strong. And some ministers opposed Ignatiev's proposals. Seeing resistance, he divided 
the proposed measures into fundamental (for which passing in the regular way required 
moving through the government and the State Council) and provisional, which could by law 
be adopted through an accelerated and simplified process. "To convince the rural population 
that the government protects them from the exploitation by Jews, the permanent residence 
of Jews outside of their towns and shtetls (and the "government was powerless to protect 
them from pogroms in the scattered villages"), and buying and renting real estate there, and 
also trading in spirits was prohibited. And regarding the Jews already living there: it granted 
to the rural communities the right "to evict the Jews from the villages, based upon a verdict 
of the village meeting." But other ministers - particularly the Minister of Finance, N. Kh. 
Bunge, and the Minister of Justice, D.N. Nabokov, did not let Ignatiev implement these 
measures: they rejected the bill, claiming that it was impossible to adopt such extensive 
prohibitive measures, "without debating them within the usual legislative process."[75] 

So much for the boundless and malicious arbitrariness of the Russian autocracy. 

Ignatiev's fundamental measures did not pass, and the provisional ones passed only in a 
greatly truncated form. Rejected were the provisions to evict the Jews already living in the 
villages, to forbid their trade in alcohol or their renting and buying land in villages. And only 
because of the fear that the pogroms might happen again around Easter of 1882, a 
temporary measure (until passing of comprehensive legislation about the Jews) was passed 
which prohibited the Jews again, henceforth to take residence and enter into ownership, or 
make use of real estate property outside of their towns and shtetls (that is, in the villages), 
and also forbade them "to trade on Sundays and Christian holidays. "[76] Concerning the 
Jewish ownership of local real estate, the government acted "to suspend temporarily the 
completion of sales and purchase agreements and loans in the name of the Jews. ..the 
notarization. ..of real estate rental agreements ... and the proxy management and disposal of 
property by them". [77] This mere relic of Ignatiev's proposed measures was approved on 3 
May 1882, under title of Temporary Regulations (known as the May Regulations). And 
Ignatiev himself went into retirement after a month and his "Committee on the Jews" 
ceased its brief existence, and a new Minister of Internal Affairs, Count D.A. Tolstoy, issued a 
stern directive against possible new pogroms, placing full responsibility on the provincial 
authorities for the timely prevention of disorders. [78] 


Thus, according to the Temporary Regulations of 1882, the Jews who had settled in rural 
regions before the 3rd of May, were not evicted; their economic activity there was 
essentially unrestricted. Moreover, these regulations only applied to the "guberniyas of 
permanent Jewish settlement," not to the guberniyas of the Russian interior. And these 
restrictions did not extend to doctors, attorneys, and engineers - i.e., individuals with "the 
right of universal residence according to educational requirement." These restrictions also 
did not affect any "existing Jewish colonies engaged in agriculture"; and there was still a 
considerable (and later growing) list of rural settlements, according to which, "in exception" 
to the Temporary Regulations, Jews were permitted to settle. [79] 

After issuance of the "Regulations," inquiries began flowing from the regions and Senate 
explanations were issued in response. For example: that "journeys through rural regions, 
temporary stops and even temporary stays of individuals without the right of permanent 
residence are not prohibited by the Law of 3 May 1882"; that "only the rent of real estates 
and agrarian lands is prohibited, while rent of all other types of real estate property, such as 
distillation plants, ... buildings for trade and industry, and living quarters is not prohibited." 
Also, "the Senate deems permissible the notarization of lumbering agreements with the 
Jews, even if the clearing of a forest was scheduled for a prolonged period, and even if the 
buyer of the forest was allowed use of the underbrush land"; and finally, that violations of 
the Law of 3rd May would not be subjected to criminal prosecution. [80] 

It is necessary to recognize these Senate clarifications as mitigating, and in many respects, 
good-natured; "in the 1880s the Senate wrestled with ... the arbitrary interpretation of the 
laws. "[81] However, the regulations forbidding the Jews to settle "outside the towns and 
shtetls" and/or to own "real estate"... "extremely restricted alcohol distillation business by 
Jews," as "Jewish participation in distillation before the 3rd May Regulations was very 

It was exactly this measure to restrict the Jews in the rural wine trade (first proposed as early 
as 1804) that stirred universal indignation at the "extraordinary severity" "of the May 
Regulations," even though it was only implemented, and incompletely at that, in 1882. The 
government stood before a difficult choice: to expand the wine industry in the face of 
peasant proneness [to drunkeness] and thus to deepen the peasant poverty, or to restrict 
the free growth of this trade by letting the Jews already living in the villages to remain while 
stopping others from coming. And that choice - restriction - was deemed cruel. 

Yet how many Jews lived in rural regions in 1882? We have already come across post- 
revolutionary estimates from the state archives: one third of the entire Jewish population of 
"the Pale" lived in villages, another third lived in shtetls, 29% lived in mid-size cities, and 5% 
in the major cities. [83] So the Regulations now prevented the "village" third from further 


Today these May Regulations are portrayed as a decisive and irrevocably repressive 
boundary of Russian history. A Jewish author writes: this was the first push toward 
emigration! - first "internal" migration, then massive overseas migration. [84] -The first 
cause of Jewish emigration was the "Ignatiev Temporary Regulations, which violently threw 
around one million Jews out of the hamlets and villages, and into the towns and shtetls of 
the Jewish Pale."[85] 

Wait a second, how did they throw the Jews out and an entire million at that? Didn't they 
apparently only prevent new arrivals? No, no! It was already picked up and sent rolling: that 
from 1882 the Jews were not only forbidden to live in the villages everywhere, but in all the 
cities, too, except in the 13 guberniyas; that they were moved back to the shtetls of "the 
Pale" -that is why the mass emigration of Jews from Russia began![86] 

Well, set the record straight. The first time the idea about Jewish emigration from Russia to 
America voiced was as early as in 1869 at the Conference of the Alliance (of the World 
Jewish Union) - with the thought that the first who settled there with the help of the 
Alliance and local Jews "would become a magnet for their Russian co-religionists."[87] 
Moreover, "the beginning of the emigration [of Jews from Russia] dates backtothe mid- 
19th Century and gains significant momentum... after the pogroms of 1881. But only since 
the mid-1890s does emigration become a major phenomenon of Jewish economic life, 
assuming a massive scale" [88] - note that it says economic life, not political life. 

From a global viewpoint Jewish immigration into the United States in the 19th Century was 
part of an enormous century-long and worldwide historical process. There were three 
successive waves of Jewish emigration to America: firstthe Spanish-Portuguese (Sephardic) 
wave, then the German wave (from Germany and Austria -Hungary), and only then from 
Eastern Europe and Russia (Ashkenazik).[89] For reasons not addressed here, a major 
historical movement of Jewish emigration to the U.S. took place in the 19th Century, and not 
only from Russia. In light of the very lengthy Jewish history, it is difficult to overestimate the 
significance of this emigration. 

And from the Russian Empire "a river of Jewish emigration went from all the guberniyas that 
made up the Jewish Pale of Settlement; but Poland, Lithuania, and Byelorussia gave the 
greatest number of emigrants";[90] meaning they did not come from Ukraine, which was 
just experiencing the pogroms. The reason for this was this emigration was the same 
throughout - overcrowding, which created inter-Jewish economic competition. Moreover, 
relying on Russian state statistics, V.Tel'nikov turns our attention to the lasttwo decades of 
the 19th Century; just after the pogroms of 1881 - 1882, comparing the resettlement of 
Jews from the Western Krai, where there were no pogroms, to the Southwest, where they 
were. The latter was numerically not less and was possibly more than the Jewish departure 
out of Russia. [91] In addition, in 1880, according to official data, 34,000 Jews lived in the 
internal guberniyas, while seventeen years later (according to the census of 1897) there 
were already 315,000 - a nine-fold increase. [92] 


Of course, the pogroms of 1881 - 1882 caused a shock but was it really a shock for the 
whole of Ukraine? For example, Sliozberg writes: "The 1881 pogroms did not alarm the Jews 
in Poltava, and soon they forgot about them." In the 1880s in Poltava "the Jewish youth did 
not know about the existence of the Jewish Question, and in general, did not feel isolated 
from the Russian youth." [93] The pogroms of 1881 -82, in their complete suddenness, could 
have seemed unrepeatable, and the unchanging Jewish economic pull was prevailing: go 
settle hither, where less Jews live. 

But undoubtedly and inarguably, a decisive turn of progressive and educated Jewry away 
from the hopes of a complete integration with the nation of "Russia" and the Russian 
population began in 1881. G. Aronson even concluded hastily, that "the 1871 Odessa 
Pogrom" "shattered the illusions of assimilation."[94] No, it wasn't that way yet! But if, for 
example, we follow the biographies of prominent and educated Russian Jews, then around 
1881 - 1882 we will note in many of them a drastic change in their attitudes toward Russia 
and about possibilities of complete assimilation. By then it was already clear and not 
contested that the pogrom wave was indubitably spontaneous without any evidence for the 
complicity of the authorities. On the contrary, the involvement of the revolutionary 
narodniks was proven. However, the Jews did not forgive the Russian Government for these 
pogroms - and never have since. And although the pogroms originated mainly with the 
Ukrainian population, the Russians have not been forgiven and the pogroms have always 
been tied with the name of Russia. 

"The pogroms of the 1880s ... sobered many [of the advocates] of assimilation" (but not all: 
the idea of assimilation still remained alive). And here, other Jewish publicists moved to the 
other extreme: in general it was impossible for Jews to live among other peoples, [for] they 
will always be looked upon as alien. And the "Palestinian Movement... began. ..'to grow 

It was under the influence of the 1881 pogroms that the Odessa doctor, Lev Pinsker, 
published his brochure, Auto-Emancipation. The Appeal of a Russian Jew to his Fellow 
Tribesmen (in Berlin in 1882, and anonymously). "It made a huge impression on Russian and 
West European Jewry." It was an appeal about the ineradicable foreignness of Jews in eyes 
of surrounding peoples. [96] We will discuss this further in Chapter 7. 

P. Aksel'rod claims that it was then that radical Jewish youths discovered that Russian 
society would not accept them as their own and thus they began to depart from the 
revolutionary movement. However, this assertion appears to be too far-fetched. In the 
revolutionary circles, except the Narodnaya Vol'ya, they did always thnik of the Jews as their 

However, despite the cooling of attitudes of the Jewish intelligentsia toward assimilation, 
the government, as a result of inertia from Alexander ll's reign, for a while maintained a 
sympathetic attitude toward the Jewish problem and did not yet fully replace it by a harshly- 


restrictive approach. After the year-long ministerial activities of Count Ignatiev, who 
experienced such persistent opposition on the Jewish Question from liberal forces in the 
upper governmental spheres, an Imperial "High Commission for Revision of the Active Laws 
about the Jews in the Empire" was established in the beginning of 1883 - or as it was named 
for its chairman, Count Palen- "The Palenskaya Commission" (so that by then, it became the 
tenth such 'Jewish Committee'). It consisted of fifteen to twenty individuals from the upper 
administration, members of ministerial councils, department directors (some were members 
of great families, such as Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Golytsin, and Speranskiy), and it also included 
seven "Jewish experts" - influential financiers, including Baron Goratsiy Gintsburg and 
Samuil Polyakov, and prominent public figures, such as Ya. Gal'pern, physiologist and 
publicist N. Bakst ("it is highly likely that the favorable attitude of the majority of the 
members of the Commission toward resolution of the Jewish Question was caused, to 
certain degree, by the influence" of Bakst), and Rabbi A. Drabkin.[97] In large part, it was 
these Jewish experts who prepared the materials for the Commission's consideration. 

The majority of the Palenskaya Commission expressed the conviction, that "the final goal of 
legislation concerning the Jews [should be] nothing other than its abolition," that "there is 
only one outcome and only one path: the path of liberation and unification of the Jews with 
the whole population, under the protection of the same laws. "[98] (Indeed, rarely in Russian 
legislation did such complicated and contradictory laws pile up as the laws about Jews that 
accumulated over the decades: 626 statutes by 1885! And they were still added later and in 
the Senate they constantly researched and interpreted their wording...). And even if the Jews 
did not perform their duties as citizens in equal measure with others, nevertheless it was 
impossible to "deprive the Jew of those fundamentals, on which his existence was based - 
his equal rights as a subject." Agreeing "that several aspects of internal Jewish life require 
reforming and that certain Jewish activities constituted exploitation of the surrounding 
population," the majority of the Commission condemned the system of "repressive and 
exclusionary measures." The Commission set as the legislative goal "to equalize the rights of 
Jews, with those of all other subjects," although it recommended "the utmost caution and 
gradualness" with this. [99] 

Practically, however, the Commission only succeeded in carrying out a partial mitigation of 
the restrictive laws. Its greatest efforts were directed of the Temporary Regulations of 1882, 
particularly in regard to the renting of land by Jews. The Commission made the argument as 
if in the defense of the landowners, not the Jews: prohibiting Jews to rent manorial lands not 
only impedes the development of agriculture, but also leads to a situation when certain 
types of agriculture remain incomplete idleness in the Western Krai - to the loss of the 
landowners as there is nobody to whom they could lease them. However, the Minister of 
Interior Affairs, D.A.Tolstoy, agreed with the minority of the Commission: the prohibition 
against new land-leasing transactions would not be repealed. [100] 


The Palenskaya Commission lasted for five years, until 1888, and in its work the liberal 
majority always clashed with the conservative minority. From the beginning, "Count Tolstoy 
certainly had no intention to revise the laws to increase the repressive measures," and the 5- 
year existence of the Palenskaya Commission confirms this. At that moment "His Majesty 
[also] did not wish to influence the decisions of his government on the matter of the 
increase of repressions against Jews." Ascending to the throne at such a dramatic moment, 
Alexander III did not hasten either to replace liberal officials, norto choose a harsh political 
course: for long time he carefully examined things. "In the course of the entire reign of 
Alexander III, the question about a general revision of the legislation about the Jews 
remained open."[101] But by 1886-87, His Majesty's view already leaned toward hardening 
of the partial restrictions on the Jews and so the work of the Commission did not produce 
any visible result. 

One of the first motivations for stricter control or more constraint on the Jews than during 
his father's reign was the constant shortfall of Jewish conscripts for military service; it was 
particularly noticeable when compared to conscription of Christians. According to the 
Charter of 1874, which abolished recruiting, compulsory military service was now laid on all 
citizens, without any difference in social standing, but with the stipulation that those unfit 
for service would be replaced: Christians with Christians, and Jews with Jews. In the case of 
Jews there were difficulties in implementation of that rule as there were both 
straightforward emigration of conscripts and their evasion which all benefited from great 
confusion and negligence in the official records on Jewish population, in the keeping of vital 
statistics, inthe reliability of information about the family situation and exact place of 
residence of conscripts. (The tradition of all these uncertainties stretched back to the times 
of the Qahals (a theocratic organizational structure that originated in ancient Israelite 
society), and was consciously maintained for easing the tax burden.) "In 1883 and 1884, 
there were many occasions when Jewish recruits, contrary to the law, were arrested simply 
upon suspicion that they might disappear."[102] (This method was first applied to Christian 
recruits, but sporadically). In some places they began to demand photographs from the 
Jewish recruits - a very unusual requirement for that time. And in 1886 a "highly constraining" 
law was issued, "about several measures for providing for regular fulfillment of military 
conscription by Jews," which established a "300-ruble fine from the relatives of each Jew 
who evaded military call-up."[103] "From 1887 they stopped allowing Jews to apply for the 
examination for officer rank [educated soldiers had privileges in choosing military specialty 
in the course of service]. "[104] (During the reign of Alexander II, the Jews could serve in the 
officers' ranks.) But officer positions in military medicine always remained open to Jews. 

Yet if we consider that in the same period up to 20 million other "aliens" of the Empire were 
completely freed from compulsory military service, then wouldn't it be better to free the 
Jews of it altogether, thus offsetting their other constraints with such a privilege? ... Orwas it 
the legacy of the idea of Nicholas I continuing here - to graft the Jews into Russian society 
through military service? To occupy the idle?" 


At the same time, Jews on the whole flocked into institutions of learning. From 1876 to 1883, 
the number of Jews in gymnasiums and gymnasium preparatory schools almost doubled, 
and from 1878 to 1886 - for an 8-year period - the number of Jewish students in the 
universities increased six times and reached 14.5%. [105] By the end of the reign of 
Alexander II they were receiving alarming complaints from the regional authorities about 
this. Thus, in 1878 the Governor of the Minsk Guberniya reported, "that being wealthier, the 
Jews can bring up their children better than the Russians; that the material condition of the 
Jewish pupils is better than that of Christians, and therefore in order that the Jewish element 
does not overwhelm the remaining population, it is necessary to introduce a quota system 
for the admission of Jews into secondary schools. "[106] Next, after disturbances in several 
southern gymnasiums in 1880, the Trustee of the Odessa School District publicly came out 
with a similar idea. And in 1883 and 1885 two successive Novorossiysk (Odessa) General - 
Governors stated that an "over-filling of learning institutions with Jews" was taking place 
there, and it is either necessary "to limit the number of Jews in the gymnasiums and 
gymnasium preparatory schools" to 15% "of the general number of pupils," or "to a fairer 
norm, equal to the proportion of the Jewish population to the whole." [107] (By 1881, Jews 
made up 75% of the general number of pupils in several gymnasiums of the Odessa 
District.[108]) In 1886, a report was made by the Governor of Kharkov Guberniya, 
"complaining about the influx of Jews to the common schools. "[109] 

In all these instances, the ministers did not deem it possible to adopt general restrictive 
solutions, and only directed the reports for consideration to the Palenskaya Commission, 
where they did not receive support. 

From the 1870s students become primary participants in the revolutionary excitement. After 
the assassination of Alexander II, the general intention to put down the revolutionary 
movement could not avoid student "revolutionary nests" (and the senior classes of the 
gymnasiums were already supplying them). Within the government there arose the alarming 
connection that together with the increase of Jews among the students, the participation of 
students in the revolutionary movement noticeably increased. Among the higher institutions 
of learning, the Medical-Surgical Academy (laterthe Military-Medical Academy) was 
particularly revolutionized. Jews were very eagerto enter it and the names of Jewish 
students of this academy began already appearing in the court trials of the 1870s. 

And so the first special restrictive measure of 1882 restricted Jewish admissions to the 
Military-Medical Academy to an upper limit of 5%. 

In 1883, a similarorder followed with respect to the Mining Institute; and in 1884 a similar 
quota was established at the Institute of Communications. [110] In 1885, the admission of 
Jews to the Kharkov Technological Institute was limited to 10%, and in 1886 their admission 
to the Kharkov Veterinary Institute was completely discontinued, since "the city of Kharkov 
was always a center of political agitation, and the residence of Jews there in more or less 
significant numbers is generally undesirable and even dangerous."[lll] 


Thus, they thought to weaken the crescendo of revolutionary waves. 

[I] Evreyskaya Entsiklopediya (dalee- EE). [The Jewish Encyclopedia (from here - JE)]. V 16T. Sankt-Peterburg.: 
Obshchestvodlya Nauchnikh Evreyskikh Izdaniy i Izdatel'stvo Brokgauz-Efron, 1906-1913. T. 12, s. 611. Society 
for Scientific Jewish Publicationsand Publisher Brokgauz-Efron. 

[2]Yu. Gessen. Istoriya evreyskogo naroda v Rossii (dalee- Yu. Gessen): V2 T. L, 1925-1927. T2 V s. 215-216. 
History of the Jewish People of Russia (from here - Yu. Gessen). 

[3] Ibid. Pages 216-217. 

[4] EE, T 12, page 612. 

[5] L. Prays man [Priceman]. Pogromi i samooborona. [Pogroms and Self-defense] //"22": Obshchestvenno- 

pol iticheskiy i I iteraturniy zhurnal evreyskoy intel ligentsii izSSSR v Izraile [Public -Political and Literary Journal of 

the Jewish Intelligentsia from the USSR in Israel]. Tel -Aviv, 1986/87, No51, p. 174. 

[6] Kratkaya Evreyskaya Entsiklopediya (dale - KEE) [The Short Jewish Encyclopedia (from here - SJE)]: [V10 T.] 
Jerusalem, 1976-2001. T 6, p. 562. 

[7] EE [JE], T 12, p. 612. 

[8] KEE [SJE], T 4, p.256. 

[9] lbid.T6, p. 562. 

[10] EE [JE], T 12, p 612-613. 

[II] Ibid., p. 612. 

[12] KEE [SJE], T 1, p. 325. 

[13] S. Ginzburg. Nastroeniya evreyskoy molodezhi v 80-kh godakh proshlogo stoletiya. [The attitudes of Jewish 
Youth in the 80s Years of the Previous Century] // Evreyskiy mir [Jewish World]: Sb 2 [Anthology 2] (dalee - EM- 
2) [from here - JW-2]. New York: Soyuz russkikh evreyev v N'yu Yorke [Union of Russian Jews in New York], 
1944, p. 383. 

[14] EE [EJ], T 12, p 611. 

[15] I. Orshanskiy. Evrei v Rossii :Ocherki i issledovaniya [The Jews in Russi a: Essays and Research]. Vip. 1. Sankt- 
Peterburg, 1872, p 212-222. 

[16] EE [EJ] T12„ p.613. 

[17] KEE [SJE], T 6, p. 562. 

[18] EE [JE] Tl, p. 826. 

[19] Yu. Gessen, T 12, p. 222. 

[20] EE [JE], T 12, p. 613. 

[21] KEE [SJE], T 6, p 562-563. 


[22] S.M. Dubnov. Noveyshaya lstoriya:Otfrantsuzkoy revolutsii 1789 goda do mirovoyvoyni 1914goda [A 
New Hi story: from the French Revolution of 1789 to the Fi rst World War of 1914]: V3 T. Berlin: Grani, 1923. T3 
(1881-1914), p. 107. 

[23] EE [JE], T6, p. 612. 

[24] R. Kantor*. Aleksandr III oevreyskikh pogromakh 1881-1883 gg. [Aleksandr III on the Jewish Pogroms, 
1881-1883]//Evreyskaya letopis' [The Jewish Chronicle]: Sb. [Anthology] 1. M.; Pg.: Paduga, 1923, p. 154. 

[25] A. L'vov // Novaya gazeta [New Gazette], New York, 1981, No70, 5-11 September, p. 26. 

[26] KEE [SJE], T 6, p. 563. 

[27] Mezhdunarodnaya evreyskaya gazeta [International Jewish Gazette], 1992, March, No6 (70), p. 7. 
[28] Yu. Gessen,T 2, p. 215. 

[29] Zerno: Rabochiylistok[TheTruth, (Grain of)]: Worker's Leaflet, June 1881, No3 //Istoriko-Revolyutsioniy 
Sbornik(dalee-IPC) [Historical-Revolutionary Anthology (from here - HRA)] / Under the Editorship of V.I. 
Nevskiy:V3T.M.; L: GIZ, 1924-1926. T2, p. 360-361. 

[30] Yu. Gessen,T 2, p. 217. 

[31] EE [JE], T 12, p. 614. 

[32] Ibid.T 3, p. 723. 

[33] M. Krol'. Kishinevskiy pogrom 1903 goda i Kishinevskiy pogromniy protsess [The Kishinev Pogrom of 1903 
andthe Kishinev Pogrom Process] // EM-2, p. 370. 

[34] Max Raisin. A History of the Jews in Modern Times. 2nd ed., New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1923, 
p. 163. 

[35] G.B. Sliozberg. Del a minuvshikh dney: Zapiski russkogo evreya [Things of Days Bygone: Notes of a Russian 
Jew]: V 3T. Paris, 1933-1934. Tl, p. 118; T 3, p.53. 

[36] L. Prays man// "22," 1986, No51, p. 175. 

[37] KEE [SJE] T6, p. 562-563. 

[38] Yu. Gessen. T 2, p. 216, 220. 

[39] R. Kantor*// Evreyskaya letopis' [The Jewish Chonicle]:Sb. [Anthology] 1, M.; Pg.: Raduga,1923, p. 152. 

[40] Yu. Gessen. T 2, p 218. 

[41] KEE [SJE], T 6, p. 692. 

[42] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p 219-220. 

[43]Gleb Uspenskiy.Vlast'zemli [The Authority of the Land]. L: Khudozh. Lit., 1967, p. 67, 88. 
[44] EE* [JE], Tl, p. 826. 
[45] lbid*,T 12, p. 614 


[46] G.B. Sliozberg. Dela minuvshikh dney... [Things of Days Bygone], T 1, p. 106. 

[47] A. Lesin. Epizodi iz moey zhizni [Episodes from My Life] // EM-2, p. 385-387. 

[48] EE [JE], T 12, p. 617-618. 

[49] Yu. Gessen,T 2, p. 218. 

[50] L. Praisman//"22 ( " 1986, No51, p. 173. 

[51] EE [JE]*, Tl, p. 826. 

[52] Yu. Gessen,T 2, p. 215. 

[53] Katorga i ssilka:lstoriko-revolyutsioniyvestnik[Hard Laborand Exile: The Historical-Revolutionary Bulletin] 
Book 48, Moscow, 1928, p. 50-52. 

[54] D. Shub. Evrei v russkoy revolyutsii [Jews in the Russian Revol ution] // EM-2, p. 129-130. 
[55] IPC [IRS], T 2, p. 360-361. 
[56] EE [JE], T 9, p. 381. 

[57] I.S. Aksakov. Sochineniya [Essays]:V7 T. Moscow, 1886-1887.T 3, p. 690, 693, 708,716, 717,719, 722. 

[58] M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin. lyul'skoe veyanie [The July's Spirit] //Otechestvennie zapiski [Homeland Notes], 
1882, No 8. 

[59] EE [JE], T 16, p. 142. 

[60] Sh. Markish.Oevreyskoy nenavisti kRossii [About Jewish Hatred toward Russia] // "22," 1984, No38, p. 

[61] EE [JE], T 2, p. 741. 
[62] KEE [SJE], T 5, p. 463. 
[63] Yu. Gessen*, T 2, p. 220-221. 
[64] EE [JE], T 1, p. 827. 
[65] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 221. 
[66] EE [JE], T 1, p. 827. 
[67] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 221. 
[68] EE [JE], T 1, p. 827-828. 
[69] Ibid*. T 2, p. 742-743. 
[70] Ibid*, T 1, p. 827-828. 
[71] lbid,T9, p. 690-691. 
[72] EE [JE], T 2, p. 744. 


[73] Yu. Gessen*, T 2, p. 222. 
[74] EE [JE] T2, p. 744. 
[75] Ibid.Tl, p. 829-830. 

[76] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 226-227; KEE [SJE], T 7, p. 341. 

[77] EE [JE], T 5, p. 815-817. 

[78] Ibid. T 12, p. 616. 

[79] EE* [JE], T5, p 815-817. 

[80] Ibid. p. 816-819. 

[81] KEE [SJE], T 7, p. 342. 

[82] EE {JE], T 5, p. 610-611. 

[83] Yu. Larin. Evrei i antisemitizm v SSSR [Jews and Anti-Semitism in the USSR]. M.; L: GIZ, 1929, p. 49-50. 

[84] I.M. Dizhur. Evrei v ekonomicheskoy zhizni Rossii [Jews in the Economic Life of Russia]// [Sankt-Peterburg.] 
Kniga o russkomevreystve: Ot 1860-kh godov do Revolyutsii 1917 g. [The Book of Russian Jewry: from the 
1860s to the Revolution of 1917]. (dalee - KRE-1) [henceforth - KRE-1]. New York: Soyuz Russkikh Evreyev 
[Union of Russian Jews], 1960, p. 160. 

[85] I.M. Dizhur. Itogi i perspektivi evreyskoy emigratsii [Outcomes and Perspectives of Jewish Emigration]// 
EM-2, p. 34. 

[86] Yu. Larin. The Jews and Anti-Semitism in the USSR, p. 52-53. 
[87] EE [JE] Tl, p. 947. 
[88] Ibid. T 16, p. 264. 

[89] M. Osherovich. Russkie evrei v Soedinenikh Shtatakh Ameriki [Russian Jews in the United Statees of 
America] //KRE-1, p. 287. 

[90] Ya. D. Leshchinskiy. Evreyskoe naselenie Rossii i evreyskiitrud.The Jewish Population of Russia a nd Jewish 
Trouble] //KRE-1, p. 190. 

[91] Sbornik materia I ovob ekonomicheskom polozheniya evreyev v Rossii [An Anthology of Materials a bout the 
Economic Condition of the Jews in Russia]. Sankt-Peterburg.: Evreyskoe KolonizatsionnoeObshchestvo [Jewish 
Colonization Society], 1904. T 1. p. xxxiii-xxxv, xiv-xivi. 

[92] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 210; EE [JE], T 11, p. 534-539. 

[93] G.B. Sliozberg. Dela minuvshikh dney...T 1, p. 98, 105. 

[94] G.Ya. Aronson. V bor'be za grazhdanskie i natsional'nieprava:Obshchestvennie techeniya v russkom 
evreystve [In the Struggle for the Civil and National Rights:Social Currents in Russian Jewry] // KRE-1, p. 208. 

[95] Gershon Svet. Russkie evrei v sionizmei v stroitel'stvePalestini i Izrailya [Russian Jews in Zionism and in 
the Buildingof Palestineand lsrael]//KRE-l, p. 241-242. 


[96] EE [JE], T 12, p. 526. 

[97] lbid.T5, p. 862,T 3, p. 700. 

[98] Ibid*, T 1, p. 832-833. 

[99] Yu. Gessen*, 12, p. 227-228. 

[100] EE [JE], T3, p. 85. 

[101] Ibid. T 1, p. 832-834. 

[102] Ibid, T 3, p. 167. 

[103] Ibid.T 1, p. 836. 

[104] Ibid. T 3, p. 167. 

[105] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 230. 

[106] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 229. 

[107] EE [JE], T 13, p. 51; T 1, p. 834-835. 

[108] Yu. Gessen, T 2, p. 231. 

[109] EE [JE], Tl, p. 835. 

[110] Ibid. p. 834. 

[Ill] Ibid*, T 13, p. 51. 


Chapter 13: The February Revolution 

The 123-year-old history of unequal citizenship of the Jewish people in Russia, from the Act 
of Catherine the Great of 1791, ended with the February Revolution. 

It bears looking into the atmosphere of those February days; what was the state of society 
by the moment of emancipation? 

There were no newspapers during the first week of the Revolutionary events in Petrograd. 
And then they began trumpeting, not looking for the ways to rebuild the state but vying with 
each other in denouncing all the things of the past. In an unprecedented gesture, the 
newspaper of the Constitutional Democrats (Kadets), Rech, announced that from now on "all 
Russian life must be rebuilt from the roots. "[1] (A thousand-year life! — why, all of a sudden 
from "the roots"?) And the Stock- Market News announced a program of action: "Yank, yank 
all these weed-roots out! No need to worry that there might be some useful plants among 
them — it's better to weed them all even at the price of unavoidable innocent victims. "[2] 
(Was this really March 1917 or March 1937?) The new Minister of Foreign Affairs Milyukov 
bowed and scraped: "Up to now we blushed in front of our allies because of our 
government.... Russia was a dead weight for our allies." [3] 

Rarely in those beginning days was it possible to hear reasonable suggestions about 
rebuilding Russia. The streets of Petrograd were in chaos, the police were non-functional 
and all over the city there was continuous disorderly gunfire. But everything poured into a 
general rejoicing, though for every concrete question, there was a mess of thoughts and 
opinions, a cacophony of debating pens. All the press and society agreed on one thing — the 
immediate legislative enactment of Jewish equality. Fyodor Sologub eloquently wrote in the 
Birzheviye Vedomosti: "The most essential beginning of the civil freedom, without which our 
land cannot be blessed, the people cannot be righteous, national achievements would not 
be sanctified ... — is the repeal of all religious and racial restrictions." 

The equality of Jews advanced very quickly. The 1st of March [old calendar style], one day 
before the abdication, a few hours before the infamous "Order No. 1," which pushed the 
army to collapse, V. Makhlakov and M. Adzhemov, two commissars of the Duma Committee 
delegated to the Ministry of Justice, had issued an internal Ministry of Justice directive, 
ordering to enlist all Jewish-assistants to attorneys-at-law into the Guild of Judicial Attorneys. 
"Already by the 3rd of March ... the Chairman of the State Duma, M. Rodzianko, and the 
Prime Minister of the Provisional Government, Prince G. Lvov, signed a declaration which 
stated that one of the main goals of the new government is a 'repeal of all restrictions based 
upon religion, nationality and social class. "'[4] Then, on the 4th of March, the Defense 
Minister Guchkov proposed to open a path for the Jews to become military officers, and the 
Minister of Education Manuelov proposed to repeal the percentage quotas on the Jews. 
Both proposals were accepted without obstacles. On the 6th of March the Minister of Trade 
and Manufacturing, Konovalov, started to eliminate "national restrictions in corporative 


legislation," that is, a repeal of the law forbidding purchase of land by companies with Jewish 

These measures were quickly put into practice. By the 8th of March in Moscow, 110 Jewish 
"assistants" were raised to the status of attorneys-at-law; by March 9th in Petrograd — 124 
such Jews[5]; by the 8th of March in Odessa — 60. [6] On the 9th of March the City Duma of 
Kiev, not waiting for the upcoming elections, included in its body five Jews with voting 
power. [7] 

And here — on March 20 the Provisional Government made a resolution, prepared by the 
Minister of Justice, A. Kerensky, with the participation of members of the political bureau of 
Jewish deputies in the 4th State Duma ... legislated an act, published on March 22, that 
repealed "all restrictions on the rights of Russian citizens, regardless of religious creed, 
dogma or nationality." This was, in essence, the first broad legislative act of the Provisional 
Government. "At the request of the political bureaus (of Jewish deputies), the Jews were not 
specifically mentioned in the resolution."[8] 

But in order to "repeal all the restrictions on Jews in all of our laws, in order to uproot ... 
completely the inequality of Jews," G.B. Sliozberg recalls, "it was necessary to make a 
complete list of all the restrictions ... and the collation of the list of laws to be repealed 
required great thoroughness and experience." (This task was undertaken by Sliozberg and 
L.M. Bramson.)[9] The Jewish Encyclopedia says: "The Act listed the statutes of Russian law 
that were being abolished by the Act — almost all those statutes (there were nearly 150) 
contained some or other anti-Jewish restrictions. Subject to repeal were, in part, all 
proscriptions connected to the Pale of Settlement; thereby its factual liquidation in 1915 was 
legally validated. [10] The restrictions were removed layer by layer: travel, habitation, 
educational institutions, participation in local self-government, the right to acquire property 
anywhere in Russia, participation in government contracts, from stock exchanges, hiring 
servants, workers and stewards of a different religion, the right to occupy high positions in 
the government and military service, guardianship and trusteeship. Recalling a cancellation 
of an agreement with the United States, they repealed similar restrictions on "foreigners 
who are not at war with the Russian government," mainly in reference to Jews coming from 
the United States. 

The promulgation of the Act inspired many emotional speeches. Deputy Freedman of the 
State Duma asserted: "For the past thirty-five years the Jews have been subjected to 
oppression and humiliation, unheard of and unprecedented even in the history of our long 
suffering people.... All of it ... was the result of state -sponsored anti-Semitism." [11] Attorney 
O.O. Gruzenberg stated: "If the pre-Revolution Russian government was a vast and 
monstrous prison, ... then its most stinking, terrible cell, its torture chamber was carted away 
for us, the six-million Jewish people. And for the first time the Jewish child learned ... about 
this usurious term 'interest' in the state school.... Like hard labor camp prisoners on their 
way to camp, all Jews were chained together as despised aliens.... The drops of blood of our 


fathers and mothers, the drops of blood of our sisters and brothers fell on our souls, there 
igniting and enlivening the unextinguishable Revolutionary fire."[12] 

Rosa Georgievna, the wife of Vinaver, recalls: "The events (of the March 1917 Revolution) 
coincided with the Jewish Passover. It looked like this was a second escape from Egypt. Such 
a long, long path of suffering and struggle has passed, and how quickly everything had 
happened. A large Jewish meeting was called," at which Milyukov spoke: "At last, a shameful 
spot has been washed away from Russia, which can now bravely step into the ranks of 
civilized nations." Vinaver "proposed to the gathering to build a large Jewish public house in 
Petrograd in memory of the meeting, which will be called "The House of Freedom. "[13] 

Three members of the State Duma, M. Bomash, E.Gurevich and N. Freedman published an 
"open letter to the Jewish people": that now "our military misfortunes could deal grave 
damage to the still infirm free Russia. Free Jewish warriors ... will draw new strength for the 
ongoing struggle, with the tenfold energy extending the great feat of arms." And here was 
the natural plan: "The Jewish people should quickly re-organize their society. The long- 
obsolete forms of our communal life must be renewed on the free, democratic 

The author-journalist David Eisman responded to the Act with an outcry: "Our Motherland! 
Our Fatherland! They are in trouble! With all our hearts ... we will defend our land.... Not 
since the defense of the Temple has there been such a sacred feat of arms." 

And from the memoirs of Sliozberg: "The great fortune to have lived to see the day of the 
declaration of emancipation of Jews in Russia and the elimination of our lack of rights — 
everything I have fought for with all my strength over the course of three decades — did not 
fill me with the joy as it should had been," because the collapse had begun right away.[15] 

And seventy years later one Jewish author expressed doubts too: "Did that formal legislative 
Act really change the situation in the country, where all legal norms were precipitously losing 
their power?" [16] 

We answer: in hindsight, from great distance, one should not downplay the significance of 
what was achieved. Then, the Act suddenly and dramatically improved the situation of the 
Jews. As for the rest of the country, falling, with all its peoples, into an abyss — that was the 
unpredictable way of the history. 

The most abrupt and notable change occurred in the judiciary. If earlier, the Batyushin's 
commission on bribery investigated the business of the obvious crook D. Rubinstein, now the 
situation became reversed: the case against Rubinstein was dropped, and Rubinstein paid a 
visit to the Extraordinary Investigatory Commission in the Winter Palace and successfully 
demanded prosecution of the Batyushin's commission itself. Indeed, in March 1917 they 
arrested General Batyushin, Colonel Rezanov, and other investigators. The investigation of 
activities of that commission began in April, and, as it turned out, the extortion of bribes 


from the bankers and sugarfactory owners by them was apparently significant. Then the 
safes of Volga-Kama, Siberian, and Junker banks, previously sealed up by Batyushin, were 
unsealed and all the documents returned to the banks. (Semanovich and Manus were not so 
lucky. When Simanovich was arrested as secretary to Rasputin, he offered 15,000 rubles to 
the prison convoy guards, if they would let him make a phone call, yet "the request was, of 
course, turned down. "[17] As for Manus, suspected of being involved in shady dealings with 
the German agent Kolyshko, he battled the counterintelligence agents who came for him by 
shooting through his apartment's door. After his arrest, he fled the country). The situation in 
the Extraordinary Investigatory Commission of the Provisional Government can be 
manifestly traced by records of interrogations in late March. Protopopov was asked how he 
came to be appointed to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and in response he mentioned the 
directive issued by him: "the residence rights of the Jews were significantly expanded" in 
Moscow. Asked about the priorities of his Ministry, he first recalled the foodstuffs affair, and, 
after then the progressive issue — the Jewish question...." The director of the Department of 
Police, AT. Vasilyev didn't miss an opportunity to inform the interrogators that he helped 
defend the sugarfactory owners (Jews): "Gruzenberg called me in the morning in my 
apartment and thanked me for my cooperation"; "Rosenberg ... visited me to thank me for 
my efforts on his behalf." [18] In this way, the accused tried to get some leniency for 

A notable aspect of the weeks of March was an energetic pursuit of known or suspected 
Judeophobes. The first one arrested, on February 27, was the Minister of Justice 
Scheglovitov. He was accused of personally giving the order to unjustly pursue the case 
against Beilis. In subsequent days, the Beilis's accusers, the prosecutor Vipper and Senator 
Chaplinsky, were also arrested. (However, they were not charged with anything specific, and 
in May 1917 Vipper was merely dismissed from his position as the chief prosecutor of the 
Criminal Department of the Senate; his fate was sealed later, by the Bolsheviks). The court 
investigator Mashkevich was ordered to resign — for during the Beilis trial he had 
sanctioned not only expert witness testimony against the argument on the ritual murder, 
but he also allowed a second expert testimony arguing for the case of such murder. The 
Minister of Justice Kerens ky requested transfer of all materials of the Beilis case from the 
Kiev Regional Court,[19] planning a loud re-trial, but during the stormy course of 1917 that 
didn't happen. The chairman of the "Union of the Russian People," Dmitry Dubrovin, was 
arrested and his archive was seized; the publishers of the far-right newspapers Glinka- 
Yanchevsky and Pol uboyari nova were arrested too; the bookstores of the Monarchist Union 
were simply burned down. 

For two weeks, they hunted for the fugitives N. Markov and Zamyslovsky, doing nightly 
searches for two weeks in St. Petersburg, Kiev and Kursk. Zamislovsky was hunted for his 
participation in the case against Beilis, and Markov, obviously, for his speeches in the State 
Duma. At the same time, they didn't touch Purishkevich, one assumes, because of his 
Revolutionary speeches in the Duma and his participation in the murder of Rasputin. An ugly 


rumor arose that Stolypin took part in the murder of lollos, and in Kremenchuk, a street that 
had previously been named after Stolypin was renamed after lollos. 

Overall of Russia there were hundreds of arrests, either because of their former positions or 
even because of their former attitudes. 

It should be noted that the announcement of Jewish equality did not cause a single pogrom. 
It is worth noticing not only for the comparison to 1905, but also because, all through March 
and April, all major newspapers were constantly reporting the preparation of pogroms, and 
that somewhere, the pogroms had already supposedly begun. 

Rumors started on March 5, that somewhere either in Kiev or Poltava Province, Jewish 
pogroms were brewing, and someone in Petrograd put up a hand-written anti-Jewish flyer. 
Asa result, the Executive Committee of Soviet Workers and Soldiers' Deputies formed a 
special "visiting commission ... led by Rafes, Aleksandrovich, and Sukhanov." Their task was 
to "delegate commissars to various towns, with the first priority to go into the regions where 
the Black Hundreds, the servants of the old regime, are trying to sow ethnic antagonism 
among the population. "[20] In the newspaper Izvestia SRSD [Soviet Workers and Soldiers' 
Deputies] there was an article Incitement to Pogrom: "It would be a huge mistake, 
tantamount to a crime, to close our eyes to a new attempt of the overthrown dynasty..." — 
because it is them [translator's note - the Monarchists] who organize the trouble.... "In Kiev 
and Poltava provinces, among the underdeveloped, backwards classes of the population at 
this moment there is incitement against Jews.... Jews are blamed for the defeats of our Army, 
for the revolutionary movement in Russia, and for the fall of the monarchy.... It's an old trick, 
... but all the more dangerous because of its timing.... It is necessary to quickly take decisive 
measures against the pogrom instigators."[21] After this the commander of the Kiev Military 
District General Khodorovich issued an order: all military units are to be on high alert and be 
ready to prevent possible anti-Jewish riots. 

Long after this, but still in April, in various newspapers, every two or three days they 
published rumors of preparations for Jewish pogroms, [22] or at the very least, about moving 
of piles of "pogrom literature" by railroads. Yet the most stubborn rumors circulated about a 
coming pogrom in Kishinev — that was to happen at the end of March, right between the 
Jewish and (Russian) Orthodox Passovers, as happened in 1903. 

And there were many more such alarming press reports (one even said that the police in 
Mogilev was preparing a pogrom near the Headquarters of Supreme High Command). Not 
one of these proved true. 

One need only get acquainted with the facts of those months, to immerse oneself in the 
whole "February" atmosphere — of the defeated Right and the triumphant Left, of the 
stupor and confusion of the common folk — to dismiss outright any realistic possibility of 
anti-Jewish pogroms. But how could ordinary Jewish residents of Kiev or Odessa forget those 


horrible days twelve years before? Their apprehension, their wary caution to any motion in 
that direction was absolutely understandable. 

The well-informed newspapers were a different story. The alarms raised by the newspapers, 
by enlightened leaders of the liberal camp, and half-baked socialist intellectuals — one 
cannot call this anything except political provocation. Provocation, however, that fortunately 
didn't work. 

One actual episode occurred at the Bessarabian bazaar in Kiev, on April 28: a girl stole a 
piece of ribbon in a Jewish shop and ran away; the store clerk caught up to her and began to 
beat her. A crowd rushed to lynch the clerk and the store owner, but the police defended 
them. In another incident, in the Rogachevsky district, people, angered by exorbitant prices, 
smashed the stores — including Jewish ones. 

Where and by whom was the Jewish emancipation met with hostility? Those were our 
legendary revolutionary Finland, and our "powerful" ally, Romania. In Finland (as we learned 
in Chapter 10 from Jabotinsky) the Jews were forbidden to reside permanently, and since 
1858, only descendants of "Jewish soldiers who served here" (in Finland, during the Crimean 
War) were allowed to settle. "The passport law of 1862 ... confirmed that Jews were 
forbidden entry into Finland," and "temporary habitation [was permitted] at the discretion 
of a local governor"; the Jews could not become Finnish citizens; in order to get married, a 
Jew had to goto Russia; the rights of Jews to testify in Finnish courts were restricted. Several 
attempts to mitigate the restriction of the civil rights of the Jews in Finland were not 
successful. [23] And now, with the advent of Jewish equal rights in Russia, Finland, not having 
yet announced its complete independence (from Russia), did not legislate Jewish equality. 
Moreover, they were deporting Jews who had illegally moved to Finland, and not in a day, 
but in an hour, on the next train out. (One such case on March 16 caused quite a splash in 
the Russian press.) But Finland was always extolled for helping the revolutionaries, and 
liberals and socialists stopped short of criticizing her. Only the Bund sent a wire to very 
influential Finnish socialists, reprimanding them that this "medieval" law was still not 
repealed. The Bund, "the party of the Jewish proletariat, expresses strong certainty that you 
will take out that shameful stain from free Finland. "[24] However, in this certainty, the Bund 
was mistaken. 

And a huge alarm was raised in the post-February press about the persecution of Jews in 
Romania. They wrote that in Jassy it was even forbidden to speak Yiddish at public meetings. 
The Ail-Russian Zionist Student Congress "Gekhover" proposed "to passionately protest this 
civil inequality of Jews in Romania and Finland, which is humiliating to the world Jewry and 
demeaning to worldwide democracy." [25] At that time Romania was weakened by major 
military defeats. So the Prime Minister Bratianu was making excuses in Petrograd in April 
saying that "most of the Jews in Romania ... migrated there from Russia," and in particular 
that "prompted Romanian government to limit the political rights of the Jews"; he promised 
equality soon. [26] However, in May we read: "In fact, nothing is happening in that 


direction."[27] (In May, the Romanian communist Rakovsky reported that "the situation of 
the Jews in Romania is ... unbearable"; the Jews were blamed for the military defeat of the 
country; they were accused of "fraternizing" with Germans in the occupied parts of the 
country. "If the Romanian government was not afraid [to anger their allies in the Entente], 
then one would fear for the very lives of the Jews.") [28] 

The worldwide response among the allies of the February Revolution was expressed in a 
tone of deep satisfaction, even ecstasy among many, but in this response there was also a 
short-sighted calculation: that now Russia will become invincible in war. In Great Britain and 
the USA there were large meetings in support of the Revolution and the rights of the Jews. (I 
wrote about some of these responses in March 1917 in Chapters 510 and 621). From 
America they offered to send a copy of the Statue of Liberty to Russia. (Yet as the situation in 
Russia continued to deteriorate, they never got around to the Statue). On March 9 in the 
House of Commons of the British Parliament the Minister of Foreign Affairs was asked a 
question about the situation of the Jews in Russia: does he plan to consult with the Russian 
government regarding guarantees to the Russian Jews forthe future and reparations for the 
past? The answershowed the full trust that the British government had forthe new Russian 
government. [29] From Paris, the president of the International Jewish Union congratulated 
[Russian Prime Minister] Prince Lvov, and Lvov answered: "From today onward liberated 
Russia will be able to respect the faiths and customs of all of its peoples forever bound by a 
common religion of love of their homeland." The newspapers Birzhevka, Rechand many 
others reported on the sympathies of Jacob Schiff, "a well known leader of North American 
circles that are hostile to Russia." He wrote: "I was always the enemy of Russian absolutism, 
which mercilessly persecuted my co-religionists. Now let me congratulate ...the Russian 
people for this great act which they committed so perfectly." [30] And now he "invites the 
new Russia to conduct broad credit operations in America. "[31] Indeed, "atthe time he 
provided substantial credit to the Kerensky government." [3 2] Later in emigration, the exiled 
Russian right-wing press published investigative reports attempting to show that Schiff 
actively financed the Revolution itself. Perhaps Schiff shared the short-sighted Western hope 
that the liberal revolution in Russia would strengthen Russia in the war. Still, the known and 
public acts of Schiff, who had always been hostile to Russian absolutism, had even greater 
effect than any possible secret assistance to such a revolution. 

The February Revolution itself often consciously appealed for support to Jews, an entire 
nation enslaved. Eye-witness testimonies that Russian Jews were very ecstatic about the 
February Revolution are rife. 

Yet there are counter-witnesses too, such as Gregory Aronson, who formed and led the 
Soviet of Workers' Deputies of Vitebsk (which later had as a member Y.V. Tarle, a future 
historian). He wrote that on the very first day, when news of the Revolution reached Vitebsk, 
the newly formed Security Council met in the city Duma, and immediately afterwards 
Aronson was invited to a meeting of representatives of the Jewish community (clearly, not 


rank and file, but leaders). "Apparently, there was a need to consult with me as a 
representative of the new dawning era, what to do further.... I felt alienation from these 
people, from the circle of their interests and from the tense atmosphere, which was at that 
meeting.... I had a sense that this society belonged mostly to the old world, which was 
retreating into the past. "[33] "We were not able to eliminate a certain mutual chill that had 
come from somewhere. The faces of the people I was working with, displayed no uplift or 
faith. At times, it appeared that these selfless social activists perceived themselves as 
elements of the old order."[34] 

That is a precise witness account. Such bewilderment, caution and wavering predominated 
among religiously conservative Jews, one assumes, not only in Vitebsk. The sensible old 
Jewry, carrying a sense of many centuries of experience of hard ordeals, was apparently 
shocked by the sudden overthrow of the monarchy and had serious misgivings. 

Yet, in the spirit of the 20th century, the dynamic masses of every nation, including Jews, 
were already secular, not chained to traditions and very eagerto build "the happy new 

The Jewish Encyclopedia notes "a sharp intensification of the political activity of Jewry, 
noticeable even against a background of stormy social uplift that gripped Russia after 
February 1917." [35] 

Myself, having worked for many years on the "February" press and memoirs of the 
contemporaries of the February, could not fail to noticed this "sharp strengthening," this 
gusting. In those materials, from the most varied witnesses and participants of those events, 
there are so many Jewish names, and the Jewish theme is very loud and persistent. From the 
memories of Rodzyanko, from the town governor Balk, from General Globachyov and many 
others, from the first days of the Revolution in the depths of the Tavrichesky Palace, the 
numbers of Jews jumped out at me — among the members of the commandants office, the 
interrogation commissions, the pamphlet-merchants and soon. V.D.Nabokov, who was well 
disposed towards Jews, wrote that on March 2 at the entrance to the Tavrichesky mini-park 
in front of the Duma building, there was "an unbelievable crush of people and shouting; at 
the entrance of the gates some young, Jewish-looking men were questioning the 
bypassers."[36] According to Balk, the crowd that went on the rampage at the "Astoria" [an 
elite hotel in St. Petersburg] on the night of February 28, consisted of armed ... soldiers, 
sailors and Jews. [37] I would indulge some emigrant irritability here as they used to say "well, 
that's all the Jews"; yet the same was witnessed by another neutral observer, the Methodist 
pastor Dr. Simons, an American who had already been in Petrograd for ten years and knew it 
well. He was debriefed by a commission of the American Senate in 1919: "Soon after the 
March Revolution of 1917, everywhere in Petrograd you could see groups of Jews, standing 
on benches, soap boxes and such, making speeches.... There had been restrictions on the 
rights of Jews to live in Petrograd, but after the Revolution they came in droves, and the 
majority of agitators were Jews ... they were apostate Jews. [38] 


A certain "Student Hanokh" came to Kronstadt a few days before a planned massacre of 
sixty officers, who were named on a hit-list; he became the founder and chairman of the 
Kronstadt's "Committee of the Revolutionary Movement." (The order of the Committee was 
to arrest and try each and all officers. "Somebody had carefully prepared and disseminated 
false information," triggering massacres first in Kronstadt, then in Sveaborg; it was "because 
of the uncertainty of the situation, when every fabrication was taken for a hard fact."[39]) 
The baton of the bloody Kronstadt affairwas carried by the drop-out psychoneurologist "Dr. 
Roshal." (Later, after the October coup, S.G. Roshal was appointed the Commandant of the 
Gatchina, and from November he was the commissar of the whole Romanian Front, where 
he was killed upon arrival. [40]) 

A certain Solomon and a Kaplun spoke on behalf of the newly-formed revolutionary militia of 
the Vasilievsky Island (in the future, the latter would become the bloody henchman of 

The Petrograd Bar created a special "Commission for the examination of the justice of 
imprisoning persons arrested during the time of the Revolution" (thousands were arrested 
during this time in Petrograd) — that is, to virtually decide their fate without due process 
(and that of all the former gendarmes and police). This commission was headed by the 
barrister Goldstein. Yet, the unique story of the petty office rTimofey Kirpichnikov, who 
triggered the street Revolution, was written in March 1917 and preserved for us by the Jew 
Jacob Markovich Fishman — a curious historical figure. (I with gratitude relied on this story 
in The Red Wheel.) 

The Jewish Encyclopedia concludes: "Jews for the first time in Russian history had occupied 
posts in the central and regional administrations."[41] 

On the very heights, in the Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' 
Deputies, invisibly ruling the country in those months, two leaders distinguished themselves: 
Nakhamkis-Steklov and Gummer-Sukhanov.On the night of March 1st to March 2nd they 
dictated to the complacently-blind Provisional Government a program which preemptively 
destroyed its power for the entire period of its existence. 

Reflective contemporary G.A. Landau thus explains the active participation of the Jews in the 
revolution: "The misfortune of Russia, and the misfortune of the Russian Jewry, is that the 
results of the first Revolution [1905] were still not processed, not transformed into a new 
social fabric; no new generation was born, when a great and back-breaking war broke out. 
And when the hour of disintegration came, it came upon the generation that from the very 
beginning was a kind of exhausted remnant of the previous revolution; it found the inertia of 
depleted spirituality, lacking an organic connection to the situation, and chained by spiritual 
stagnation to the ten-years-ago-bygone period. And so the organic Revolutionism of the 
beginning of the 20th century [of the First Russian Revolution of 1905] had turned into the 
mechanical' permanent Revolution' of the wartime era."[42] 


Through many years of detailed studies I have spent much time trying to comprehend the 
essence of the February Revolution and the Jewish role in it. I came to this conclusion and 
can now repeat: no, the February Revolution was not something the Jews did to the Russians, 
but rather it was done by the Russians themselves, which I believe I amply demonstrated in 
The Red Wheel. We committed this downfall ourselves: our anointed Tsar, the court circles, 
the hapless high-ranking generals, obtuse administrators, and their enemies — the elite 
intelligentsia, the Octobrist Party, the Zemstvo, the Kadets, the Revolutionary Democrats, 
socialists and revolutionaries, and along with them, a bandit element of army reservists, 
distressingly confined to the Petersburg's barracks. And this is precisely why we perished. 
True, there were already many Jews among the intelligentsia by that time, yet that is in no 
way a basis to call it a Jewish revolution. 

One may classify revolutions by their main animating forces, and then the February 
Revolution must be seen as a Russian national Revolution, or more precisely, a Russian 
ethnic Revolution. Though if one would judge it using the methodology of materialistic 
sociologists — asking who benefited the most, or benefited most quickly, or the most solidly 
and in the long term from the Revolution, — then it could be called otherwise, Jewish, for 
example. But then again why not German? After all, Kaiser Wilhelm initially benefited from it. 
But the remaining Russian population got nothing but harm and destruction; however, that 
doesn't make the Revolution "non-Russian." The Jewish society got everything it fought for 
from the Revolution, and the October Revolution was altogether unnecessary for them, 
except for a small slice of young cutthroat Jews, who with their Russian internationalist 
brothers accumulated an explosive charge of hate for the Russian governing class and burst 
forth to "deepen" the Revolution. 

So how, having understood this, was I to move through March 1917 and then April 1917? 
Describing the Revolution literally hour by hour, I frequently found the many episodes in the 
sources that had a Jewish theme. Yet would it be right to simply pour all that on the pages of 
March 1917? Then that easy and piquant temptation — to put all the blame on Jews, on 
their ideas and actions, to see them as the main reason for these events — would easily 
skew the book and overcome the readers, and divert the research awayfrom the truly main 
causes of the Revolution. 

And so in order to avoid the self-deception of the Russians, I persistently and purposely 
downplayed the Jewish theme in The Red Wheel, relative to its actual coverage in the press 
and on the streets in those days. 

The February Revolution was carried out by Russian hands and Russian foolishness. Yet at 
the same time, its ideology was permeated and dominated by the intransigent hostility to 
the historical Russian state that ordinary Russians didn't have, but the Jews — had. So the 
Russian intelligentsia too had adopted this view. (This was discussed in Chapter 11). This 
intransigent hostility grew especially sharp after the trial of Beilis, and then after the mass 
expulsion of Jews in 1915. And so this intransigence overcame the moderation. 


Yet the Executive Committee of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, which was formed within 
hours of the Revolution, appears very different. This Executive Committee was in facta 
tough shadow government that deprived the liberal Provisional Government of any real 
power, while at the same time, criminally refused to accept responsibility for its power 
openly. By its "Order No. 1," the Executive Committee wrested the power from the military 
and created support for itself in the demoralized garrison of Petrograd. It was precisely this 
Executive Committee, and not the judiciary, not the timber industrialists, not the bankers, 
which fast-tracked the country to her doom. In the summer of 1917, Joseph Goldenberg, a 
member of the Executive Committee explained to the French Diplomat Claude Anet: "The 
Order No. 1 was not a mistake; it was a necessity.... On the day we executed the Revolution, 
we realized that if we did not destroy the old army, it would crush the Revolution. We had to 
choose between the army and the Revolution, and we did not waver: we chose the latter ... 
[and we inflicted,] I dare say, a brilliant blow."[43] So there you have it. The Executive 
Committee quite purposely destroyed the army in the middle of the war. 

Is it legitimate to ask who were those successful and fatal-for-Russia leaders of the Executive 
Committee? Yes, it is legitimate, when actions of such leaders abruptly change the course of 
history. And it must be said that the composition of the Executive Committee greatly 
concerned the public and the newspapers in 1917, during which time many members of the 
Committee concealed themselves behind pseudonyms from the public eye: who was ruling 
Russia? No one knew. 

Then, as it turned out, there was a dozen of soldiers, who were there just for show and 
weren't very bright, they were kept out of any real power or decision making. From the 
other thirty, though, of those who actually wielded power, more than half were Jewish 
socialists. There were also Russians, Caucasians, Latvians and Poles. Less than a quarter were 

The moderate socialist V.B. Stankevich noted: "What really stuck out in the composition of 
the Committee was the large foreign element ... totally out of proportion to their part of the 
population in Petrograd or the country in general." Stankevich asks, "Was this the unhealthy 
scum of Russian society? Orwas this the consequence of the sins of the old regime, which by 
its actions violently pushed the foreign element into the Leftist parties? Or was that simply 
the result of free competition?" And then, "there remains an open question — who bears 
more guilt for this — the foreign born, who were there, or the Russians who could have been 
there but weren't?"[44] 

For a socialist that might be a case to look for a guilty party. Yet wouldn't it better for all — 
for us, for you, for them — to avoid sinking into that mad dirty torrent altogether? 


[1] Rech, 1917, March 17 

[2] Birzhevye Vedomosti, 1917, March 8 (here and further, the morning edition) 


[3] ibid, March 10, page 6 

[4] Abridged Jewish Encyclopedia, (heretofore AJE) Jerusalem: Society for the Research of Jewish Community, 
1994, Volume 7, Page 377 

[5] Rech', March 9, 1917 Page 4: March 10, Page 5, et. al. 
[6] Birzheviye Vedomosti, March 9, 1917, Page 2 
[7] Ibid, March 10, Page 2 
[8] AJE, Volume 7, Page 377 

[9][9] G.B. Sliozberg, Del a Minuvshikh Dney:Zapiski Russkovo Yevreya: Paris, 1933-1934, Volume 3, Page 360 

[10]AJE, Volume 7, Page 377 

[11] Rech', March 25, 1917, Page 6 

[12] Ibid 

[13] R.G. Vinaver, Memoirs (New York, 1944)// Hraneniye Guverskovo Instituta Voyni, Revolutsiyi I Mira - 
Stanford, California, Mashinopis', Page92 

[14] Russkaya Volya, March 29, Page 5 

[15] G.B. Slyozberg, Dela Minuvshikh Dney, Volume 3, Page 360 

[16] B. Orlov, Rossiya byezYevreev (Russia withoutJews) // "22": Obshestvenno-politicheskiy a literaturniy 
zhurnal yevreyskoy intel igentsi'l izSSSRv Izrayelye. Tel -Aviv, 1988, No. 60, Page 157. 

[17] Rech', March 17, 1917, Page 5 

[18] PadeniyeTsarskovo Rezhima (Fall of the Tsarist Regime): Stenographicheskiyeotchyoti doprosov a 
pokazani'l, dannikh v. 1917 g. v Chryezvichaynoy Sledstvennoy Kommissi'l Vremennovo Pravityelstva. L: GUZ, 
1924, T.l. Pages 119-121,429 

[19] Russkaya Volya (Russian Will), April 21, 1917, Page4 

[20] Izvestiya PetrogradskovoSovieta Rabochikh I Soldatskikh Deputatov, (heretofore "Izvestiya), March 6, 
1917, Page 4 

[21] Izvestiya, March 6, Page 2 

[22] For example: Birzheviye Vedomosti, April 8 and 12, 1917; Russkaya Volya, April 9, 1917; Izvestiya, April 15, 
and 28, 1917; et. al. 

[23] Yevreyskaya Encyclopedia (Jewish Encyclopedia):Volume 16 SPB: Obshestvo dlya Nauchnikh Yevreskikh 
Izdanni'l I Izd-Vo Brokaw-Yefron, 1906-1913. Volume 15, Page 281-284 

[24] Izvyestiya, March 26, 1917 Page 2 

[25] Russkaya Volya, April 15, 1917, Page 4 

[26] Birzheviye Vedomosti, April 23, 1917, Page 3 


[27] ibid, May 19, Page 1 

[28] Dyen' (Day), May 10, 1917 

[29] BirzheviyeVedomosti, March 11, 1917, Page 2 

[30] BirzheviyeVedomosti, March 10, 1917, Page 6 

[31] Rech', March 10, 1917, Page 3 

[32] Encyclopedia Judaica, Jerusalem, Keter Publishing House, 1971, Volume 14, Page 961 

[33] G.Y. Aronson, Intervyu Radiostantsi'l "Svoboda"// Vospominaniya o revolutsi'l 1917 goda, Intervyu No. 66, 
Munchen, 1966, Page 13-14 

[34] G. Aronson, Revolutsionnaya Yunost': Vospominaniya, 1903-1917// Inter-University Project on the History 
of the Menshevik Movement, Paper No. 6, New York, August 1961, Page 33 

[35] AJE, T. 7, Page 378 

[36] V. Nabokov, Vremennoye Pravitelstvo//Arkhiv Russkoy Revolutsi'l, izdavaemiy I.V. Gessenom. Berlin: 
Slovo, 1922-1937, Vol.1, Page 15 

[37] A. Balk, Posledniye pyat' dney tsarskovo Petrograda (23-28 Fevralya 1917) Dnevnik poslednevo 
Petrogradskovo Gradonachal'nika // KhranenieGuverskovo Instituta, Mashinopis', Page 16 

[38] Oktyabrskaya revolutsiya pered sudom amerikanskikh senatorov:Ofitsialniyotchyot"overmenskoy 
kommissiT'Senata. M.;L; GIZ, 1927 Page 5 

[39] D.O. Zaslavskiy,VI.A. Kantorovich. Khronika Fevralskoy revolutsi'l, Pg.:Biloye, 1924. Volume 1, Page 63, 65 
[40] Rosskiskaya Yevreyskaya Encyclopedia, 2-eizd., ispr. I dop. M., 1995, Volume 2, Page 502 
[41] AJE, Volume 7, Page 381 

[42] G.A. Landau, Revol utsionniye idyee v Yevreyskoy obshestvennosti // Rossi'l I every: Sb. 1 / 
Otechestvennoye ob'yedinennie russkikh yevreyev za granitsyey. Paris:YMCA- Press, 1978, Page 116 [1-e izd. 
- Berlin:Osnova,1924] 

[43] Claude Anet, La revol ution russe:Juin-Novembre 1917. Paris: Payotet C-ie, 1918,Page61 
[44] VB. Stankevich, Vospominaniya, 1914-1919, Berl in: Izd-vo I. P. Ladizhnikova, 1920, Page 86 


Chapter 14: During 1917 

In the beginning of April 1917 the Provisional Government had discovered to its surprise that 
Russian finances, already for some time in quite bad shape, were on the brink of complete 
collapse. In an attempt to mend the situation, and stirenthusiastic patriotism, the 
government loudly, announced the issuance of domestic Freedom Loan bonds. 

Rumors about the loan had began circulating as early as March and Minister of Finance 
Tereshchenko informed the press that there were already multi-million pledges from 
bankers to buy bonds, "mainly from the Jewish bankers, which is undoubtedly related to the 
abolition of religious and national restrictions. "[1] Indeed, as soon as the loan was officially 
announced, names of large Jewish subscribers began appearing in newspapers, accompanied 
by prominent front-page appeals: "Jewish citizens! Subscribe to the Freedom Loan!" and 
"Every Jew must have the Freedom Loan bonds!" [2] In a single subscription drive in a 
Moscow synagogue 22 million rubles was collected. During the first two days, Jews in Tiflis 
subscribed to 1.5 million rubles of bonds; Jews in Minsk -to half a million in the first week; 
the Saratov community -to 800 thousand rubles of bonds. In Kiev, the heirs of Brodsky and 
Klara Ginzburg each spent one million. The Jews abroad came forward as well: Jacob Schiff, 1 
million; Rothschild in London, 1 million; in Paris, on the initiative of Baron Ginzburg, Russian 
Jews participated actively and subscribed to severalmillion worth of bonds. [3] At the same 
time, the Jewish Committee in Support for Freedom Loan was established and appealed to 
public. [4] 

However, the government was very disappointed with the overall result of the first month of 
the subscription. For encouragement, the lists of major subscribers (who purchased bonds 
on 25 thousand rubles or more) were published several times: in the beginning of May, in 
the beginning of June and in the end of July. "The rich who did not subscribe"[5] were 
shamed. What is most striking is not the sheer number of Jewish names on the lists 
(assimilated Russian-Germans with their precarious situation during the Russo-German War 
were in the second place among bond-holders) but the near absence of the top Russian 
bourgeoisie, apart from a handful of prominent Moscow entrepreneurs. 

In politics, "left and center parties burgeoned and many Jews had became politically 
active." [6] From the very first days after the February Revolution, central newspapers 
published an enormous number of announcements about private meetings, assemblies and 
sessions of various Jewish parties, initially mostly the Bund, but later Poale Zion, Zionists, 
Socialist Zionists, Territorialist Zionists, and the Socialist Jewish Workers' Party (SJWP). By 
March 7 we already read about an oncoming assembly of the Ail-Russian Jewish Congress - 
finally, the pre-revolutionary idea of Dubnov had become widely accepted. However, 
"because of sharp differences between Zionists and Bundists," the Congress did not 
materialize in 1917 (nor did it occur in 1918 either "because of the Civil War and antagonism 
of Bolshevik authorities"). [7] "In Petrograd, Jewish People's Group was re-established with 


M. Vinaver at the helm. "[8] They were liberals, not socialists; initially, they hoped to 
establish an alliance with Jewish socialists. Vinaver declared: "we applaud the Bund - the 
vanguard of the revolutionary movement."[9] Yet the socialists stubbornly rejected all 
gestures of rapprochement. 

The rallying of Jewish parties in Petrograd had indirectly indicated that by the time of 
revolution the Jewish population there was already substantial and energetic. Surprisingly, 
despite the fact that almost no "Jewish proletariat" existed in Petrograd, the Bund was very 
successful there. It was extraordinarily active in Petrograd, arranging a number of meetings 
of local organization (in the lawyer's club and then on April 1 in the Tenishev's school); there 
was a meeting with a concert in the Mikhailovsky Theatre; then on April 14-19 "the All- 
Russian Conference of the Bund took place, at which a demand to establish a national and 
cultural Jewish autonomy in Russia was brought forward again. "[10] ("After conclusion of 
speeches, all the conference participants had sung the Bund's anthem Oath, The 
Internationale, and La Marseillaise."[ll]) And, as in past, Bund had to balance its national 
and revolutionary platforms: in 1903 it struggled for the independence from the Russian 
Social Democratic Labor Party, and yet in 1905 it rushed headlong into the Ail-Russian 
revolution. Likewise, now, in 1917, the Bund's representatives occupied prominent positions 
in the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies [a Soviet is the 
Russian term used for an elected (at least in theory) council] and later among the Social 
Democrats of Kiev. "By the end of 1917 the Bund had nearly 400 sections countrywide, 
totaling around 40,000 members."[12] 

Developments in Poale Zion were no less amazing. In the beginning of April they also held 
their Ail-Russian Conference in Moscow. Among its resolutions we see on the one hand a 
motion to organize the Ail-Russian Jewish Congress and discuss the problem of emigration to 
Palestine. On the other hand, the Poale Zion Conference in Odessa had simultaneously 
announced the party's uncompromising program of class warfare: "Through the efforts of 
Jewish revolutionary democracy the power over destinies of the Jewish nation was ... 
wrested from the dirty grasp of 'wealthy and settled' Jews despite all the resistance of 
bourgeoisie to the right and the Bund to the left.... Do not allow the bourgeois parties to 
bring in the garbage of the old order.... Do not let the hypocrites speak - they did not fight 
but sweated out the rights for our people on their bended knees in the offices of anti-Semitic 
ministers; ... they did not believe in the revolutionary action of the masses." Then, in April 
1917, when the party had split the "Radical Socialist" Poale Zion moved toward the Zionists, 
breaking away from the main "Social Democratic" Poale Zion,[13] which later would join the 
Third International. [14] 

Like the two above-mentioned parties, the SJWP also held its statewide conference at which 
it had merged with the Socialist Zionists, forming the United Jewish Socialist Workers' Party 
(Fareynikte) and parting with the idea "of any extraterritorial Jewish nation" with its own 
parliament and national autonomy. "Fareynikte appealed to the Provisional Government 


asking it to declare equality of languages and to establish a council on the affairs of 
nationalities" which would specifically "fund Jewish schools and public agencies." At the 
same time, Fareynikte closely collaborated with the Socialist Revolutionaries. [15] 

However, it was Zionism that became the most influential political force in the Jewish 
milieu. [16] As early as the beginning of March, the resolution of Petrograd's Zionist 
Assembly contained the following wording: "The Russian Jewry is called upon to support the 
Provisional Government in every possible way, to enthusiastic work, to national 
consolidation and organization for the sake of the prosperity of Jewish national life in Russia 
and the national and political renaissance of Jewish nation in Palestine." And what an 
inspiring historical moment it was - March 1917 -with the British troops closing on 
Jerusalem right at that time! Already on March 19 the proclamation of Odessa's Zionists 
stated: "today is the time when states rearrange themselves on national foundations. Woe 
to us if we miss this historic opportunity." In April, the Zionist movement was strongly 
reinforced by the public announcement of Jacob Schiff, who had decided to join Zionists 
"because of fearof Jewish assimilation as a result of Jewish civil equality in Russia. He 
believes that Palestine could become the center to spread ideals of Jewish culture all over 
the world. "[17] In the beginning of May, Zionists held a large meeting in the building of 
Petrograd Stock Exchange, with Zionist hymns performed several times. In the end of May 
the Ail-Russian Zionist Conference was held in the Petrograd Conservatory. It outlined major 
Zionist objectives: cultural revival of the Jewish nation, "social revolution inthe economic 
structure of Jewish society to transform the 'nation of merchants and artisans into the 
nation of farmers and workers,' an increase in emigration to Palestine and 'mobilization of 
Jewish capital to finance the Jewish settlers'." Both Jabotinsky's plan on creation of a Jewish 
legion in the British Army and the I. Trumpeldorf's plan for the "formation of a Jewish army 
in Russia which would cross the Caucasus and liberate Eretz Yisrael [The land of Israel] from 
Turkish occupation have been discussed and rejected on the basis of the neutrality of 
Zionists in the World Warl."[18] 

The Zionist Conference decreed to vote during the oncoming local elections for the parties 
"not farther to the right than the People's Socialists," and even to refuse to support 
Constitutional Democrats like D. Pasmanik, who later complained: "It was absolutely 
meaningless -it looked like the entire Russian Jewry, with its petty and large bourgeoisie, 
are socialists."[19] His bewilderment was not unfounded. 

The congress of student Zionist organization, Gekhover, with delegates from 25 cities and all 
Russian universities, had taken place inthe beginning of April in Petrograd. Their resolution 
stated that the Jews were suffering not for the sake of equality in Russia but for the rebirth 
of Jewish nation in the native Palestine. They decided to form legions in Russia to conquer 
Palestine. Overall, "during the summer and fall of 1917 Zionism in Russia continued to gain 
strength: by September its members numbered 300,000."[20] 


It is less known that in 1917 Jewish "orthodox movements enjoyed substantial popularity 
second only to the Zionists and ahead of the socialist parties" (as illustrated by their success 
"during elections of the leadership of reorganized Jewish communities"). [21] 

There were rallies ("The Jews are together with the democratic Russia in both love and 
hatred!"), public lectures ("The Jewish Question and the Russian Revolution"), city-wide 
"assemblies of Jewish high school students" in Petrograd and other cities (aside from general 
student meetings). In Petrograd, the Central Organ of Jewish Students was established, 
though not recognized by the Bund and other leftist parties. While many provincial 
committees for the assistance to the "victims of the war" (i.e., to Jewish refugees and 
deportees) ceased to exist because at this time "democratic forces needed to engage in 
broader social activities," and so the Central Jewish Committee for providing such aid was 
formed by April. In May the Jewish People's Union was established to facilitate consolidation 
of all Jewish forces, to prepare for the convocation of the Ail-Russian Jewish Union and to 
get ready for the oncoming elections to the Constituent Assembly. In the end of May there 
was another attempt of unification: the steering committee of the Jewish Democratic 
Alliance convened the conference of all Jewish democratic organizations in Russia. 
Meanwhile, lively public discussion went on regarding convocation of the Ail-Russian Jewish 
Congress: the Bund rejected it as inconsistent with their plans; the Zionists demanded the 
Congress include on their agenda the question of Palestine - and were themselves rejected 
by the rest; in July the Ail-Russian Conference on the Jewish Congress preparation took place 
in Petrograd. [22] Because of social enthusiasm, Vinaver was able to declare there that the 
idea of united Jewish nation, dispersed among different countries, is ripe, and that from now 
on the Russian Jews may not be indifferent to the situation of Jews in other countries, such 
as Romania or Poland. The Congress date was set for December. 

What an upsurge of Jewish national energy it was! Even amid the upheavals of 1917, Jewish 
social and political activities stood out in their diversity, vigor and organization. 

The "period between February and November 1917 was the time of blossoming" of Jewish 
culture and healthcare. In addition to the Petrograd publication The Jews of Russia, the 
publisher of The Jewish Week had moved to Petrograd; publication of the Petrograd- 
Torgblat in Yiddish had begun; similar publications were started in other cities. The Tarbut 
and Culture League [a network of secular, Hebrew-language schools] had established 
"dozens of kindergartens, secondary and high schools and pedagogic colleges" teaching both 
in Yiddish and in Hebrew. A Jewish grammar school was founded in Kiev. In April, the first 
Ail-Russian Congress on Jewish Culture and Education was held in Moscow. It requested 
state funding for Jewish schools A conference of the Society of Admirers of Jewish Language 
and Culture took place. The Habima Theatre, "the first professional theatre in Hebrew in the 
world,"[23] opened in Moscow. There were an exposition of Jewish artists and a conference 
of the Society on Jewish Health Care in April in Moscow. 


These Jewish activities are all the more amazing given the state of general governmental, 
administrative and cultural confusion in Russia 1917. 

A major event in the Jewish life of the time was the granting of official permission for Jewish 
youth to enlist as officers in the Russian Army. It was a large-scale move: in April, the 
headquarters of the Petrograd military district had issued an order to the commanders of 
Guards military units to immediately post all Jewish students to the training battalion at 
Nizhny Novgorod with the purpose of their further assignment to military academies[24] - 
that is virtually mass-scale promotion of young Jews into the officer ranks. "Already in the 
beginning of June 1917, 131 Jews graduated from the accelerated military courses at the 
Konstantinovsky military academy in Kiev as officers; in the summer 1917 Odessa, 160 
Jewish cadets were promoted into officers." [25] In June 2600 Jews were promoted to 
warrant-officer rank all over Russia. 

There is evidence that in some military academies Junkers [used in Tsarist Russia for cadets 
and young officers] met Jewish newcomers unkindly, as it was in the Alexandrovsky military 
academy after more than 300 Jews had been posted to it. In the Mikhailovsky military 
academy a group of Junkers proposed a resolution that: "Although we are not against the 
Jews in general, we consider it inconceivable to let them into the command ranks of the 
Russian Army." The officers of the academy dissociated themselves from this statement and 
a group of socialist Junkers (141-strong) had expressed their disapproval, "finding anti- 
Jewish protests shameful for the revolutionary army,"[26] and the resolution did not pass. 
When Jewish warrant officers arrived to their regiments, they often encountered mistrust 
and enmity on the part of soldiers for whom having Jews as officers was extremely unusual 
and strange. (Yet the newly-minted officers who adopted new revolutionary style of 
behavior gained popularity lightning-fast.) 

On the other hand, the way Jewish Junkers from the military academy in Odessa behaved 
was simply striking. In the end of March, 240 Jews had been accepted into the academy. 
Barely three weeks later, on April 18 old style, there was a First of May parade in Odessa and 
the Jewish Junkers marched ostentatiously singing ancient Jewish songs. Did they not 
understand that Russian soldiers would hardly follow such officers? What kind of officers 
were they going to become? It would be fine if they were being prepared for the separate 
Jewish battalions. Yet according to General Denikin, the year 1917 saw successful formation 
of all kinds of national regiments - Polish, Ukrainian, Transcaucasian (the Latvian units were 
already in place for a while) - except the Jewish ones: it was "the only nationality not 
demanding national self-determination in military. And every time, when in response to 
complaints about bad acceptance of Jewish officers in army formation of separate Jewish 
regiments was suggested, such a proposal was met with a storm of indignation on the part 
of Jews and the Left and with accusations of a spiteful provocation." [27] (Newspapers had 
reported that Germans also planned to form separate Jewish regiments but the project was 
dismissed.) It appears, though, that new Jewish officers still wanted some national 


organization in the military. In Odessa on August 18, the convention of Jewish officers 
decided to establish a section which would be responsible for connections between different 
fronts "to report on the situation of Jewish officers in the field." In August, "unions of Jewish 
warriors appeared; by October such unions were present at all fronts and in many garrisons. 
During the October 10-15, 1917 conference in Kiev, the Ail-Russian Union of Jewish Warriors 
was founded."[28] (Although it was a new 'revolutionary army', some reporters still 
harbored hostility toward officer corps in general and to officer's epaulettes in particular; for 
instance, A. Alperovich whipped up emotions against officers in general in Birzhevye 
Vedomosti [Stock Exchange News] as late as May 5.)[29] 

Various sources indicate that Jews were not eagerto be drafted as common soldiers even in 
1917; apparently, there were instances when to avoid the draft sick individuals passed off as 
genuine conscripts at the medical examining boards, and, as a result, some district draft 
commissions began demanding photo-IDs from Jewish conscripts (an unusual practice in 
those simple times). It immediately triggered angry protests that such a requirement goes 
against the repulsion of national restrictions, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs forbade 
asking for such IDs. 

In the beginning of April the Provisional Government issued an order by telegraph to free 
without individual investigation all Jews previously exiled as suspects of espionage. Some of 
them resided in the now-occupied territories, while others could safely return home, and yet 
many deportees asked for permission to reside in the cities of the European part of Russia. 
There was a flow of Jews into Petrograd (Jewish population of 50,000 in 1917)[30] and a 
sharp increase of Jewish population in Moscow (60,000). [31] 

Russian Jews received less numerous, but highly energetic reinforcement from abroad. Take 
those two famous trains that crossed hostile Germany without hindrance and brought to 
Russia nearly 200 prominent individuals, 30 in Lenin's and 160 in Natanson-Martov's train, 
with Jews comprising an absolute majority (the lists of passengers of the 'exterritorial trains' 
were for the first time published by V. Burtsev).[32] They represented almost all Jewish 
parties, and virtually all of them would play a substantial role in the future events in Russia. 

Hundreds of Jews returned from the United States: former emigrants, revolutionaries, and 
draft escapees - now they all were the 'revolutionary fighters' and 'victims of Tsarism'. By 
order of Kerensky, the Russian embassy in the USA issued Russian passports to anyone who 
could provide justtwo witnesses (to testify to identity) literallyfrom the street. (The 
situation around Trotsky's group was peculiar. They were apprehended in Canada on 
suspicion of connections with Germany. The investigation found that Trotsky travelled not 
with flimsy Russian papers, but with a solid American passport, inexplicably granted to him 
despite his short stay in the USA, and with a substantial sum of money, the source of which 
remained a mystery.[33]) On June 26 at the exalted "Russian rally in New York City" (directed 
by P. Rutenberg, one-time friend and then a murderer of Gapon), Abraham Kagan, the editor 
of Jewish newspaper Forwards, addressed Russian ambassador Bakhmetev "on behalf of two 


million Russian Jews residing in the United States of America": "We have always loved our 
motherland; we have always sensed the links of brotherhood with the entire Russian 
nation.... Our hearts are loyal to the red banner of the Russian liberation and to the national 
tricolor of the free Russia." He had also claimed that the self-sacrifice of the members of 
Narodnaya Volya [literally, The People's Will, a terrorist leftwing revolutionary group in 
Tsarist Russia, best known for its assassination of Tsar Alexander II, known as 'the Tsar 
Liberator for ending serfdom] "was directly connected to the fact of increased persecution of 
the Jews" and that "people like Zundelevich, Deich, Gershuni, Liber and Abramovich were 
among the bravest." [34] 

And so they had begun coming back, and not just from New York, judging by the official 
introduction of discounted railroad fare for 'political emigrants' travelling from Vladivostok. 
At the late July rally in Whitechapel, London, "it was found that in London alone 10,000 Jews 
declared their willingness to return to Russia"; the final resolution had expressed pleasure 
that "Jews would go back to struggle for the new social and democratic Russia. "[35] 

Destinies of many returnees, hurrying to participate in the revolution and jumping headlong 
into the thick of things, were outstanding. Among the returnees were the famous V. 
Volodarsky, M. Uritsky, and Yu. Larin, the latter was the author of the 'War Communism 
economy' program. It is less known that Yakov Sverdlov's brother, Veniamin, was also 
among the returnees. Still, he would not manage to rise higher than the deputy Narkom 
[People's Commissar] of Communications and a member of Board of the Supreme Soviet of 
the National Economy. Moisei Kharitonov, Lenin's associate in emigration who returned to 
Russia in the same train with him, quickly gained notoriety by assisting the anarchists in their 
famous robbery in April; later he was the secretary of Perm, Saratov and Sverdlov gubkoms 
[guberniya's Party committee], and the secretary of Urals Bureau of the Central Committee. 
Semyon Dimanshtein, a member of a Bolshevik group in Paris, would become the head of 
the Jewish Commissariat at the People's Commissariat of Nationalities, and later the head of 
YevSek [Jewish Section] at the Ail-Russian Central Executive Committee; he would in fact 
supervise the entire Jewish life. Amazingly, at the age of 18 he managed "to pass 
qualification test to become a rabbi" and became a member of the Russian Social 
Democratic Workers' Party - all this in course of one year.[36] Similarly, members of the 
Trotsky's group had also fared well: the jeweler G. Melnichansky, the accountant Friman, the 
typographer A. Minkin-Menson, and the decorator Gomberg-Zorin had respectively headed 
Soviet trade unions, Pravda, the dispatch office of bank notes and securities, and the 
Petrograd Revolutionary Tribunal. 

Names of other returnees afterthe February Revolution are now completely forgotten, yet 
wrongly so, as they played important roles in the revolutionary events. For example, the 
Doctor of Biology Ivan Zalkind had actively participated in the October coup and then in fact 
ran Trotsky's People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs. Semyon Kogan-Semkov became the 
"political commissar of Izhevsk weapons and steel factories" in November 1918; that is he 


was in charge of the vindictive actions during suppression of major uprising of Izhevsk 
workers[37] known for its large, in many thousands, victim's toll; in a single incident on the 
Sobornaya Square in Izhevsk 400 workers were gunned down. [38] Tobinson-Krasnoshchekov 
later headed the entire Far East as the secretary of the Far East Bureau and the head of local 
government. Girshfeld-Stashevsky under the pseudonym "Verkhovsky" was in command of a 
squad of German POWs and turncoats, that is, he laid foundation for the Bolshevik 
international squads; in 1920 he was the head of clandestine intelligence at the Western 
front; later, in peacetime, "he, on orders of Cheka Presidium, had organized intelligence 
network in the Western Europe"; he was awarded the title of "Honorary Chekist."[39] 

Among returnees were many who did not share Bolshevik views (at least at the time of 
arrival) but they were nevertheless welcomed into the ranks of Lenin's and Trotsky's party. 
For instance, although Yakov Fishman, a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee of 
the October coup, had deviated from the Bolshevik mainstream by participating in the Left 
Socialist Revolutionary insurrection in July 1918, he was later accepted into the Russian 
Communist party of Bolsheviks (RCPB) and entrusted with a post in the Military Intelligence 
Administration of the Red Army. Or take Yefim Yarchuk, who had returned as an Anarchist 
Syndicalist, but was delegated by the Petrograd Soviet to reinforce the Kronstadt Soviet; 
during the October coup he had brought a squad of sailors to Petrograd to storm the Winter 
Palace. The returnee Vsevolod Volin-Eikhenbaum (the brother of the literary scholar) was a 
consistent supporter of anarchism and the ideologist of Makhno [a Ukrainian separatist- 
anarchist] movement; he was the head of the Revolutionary Military Soviet in the Makhno 
army. We know that Makno was more of an advantage than a detriment to Bolsheviks and 
as a result Volin was later merely forced to emigrate together with a dozen of other 
anarchists. [40] 

The expectations of returnees were not unfounded: those were the months marked by a 
notable rise to prominence for many Jews in Russia. "The Jewish Question exists no longer in 
Russia."[41] (Still, in the newspaper essay by D. Aizman, Sura Alperovich, the wife of a 
merchant who moved from Minsk to Petrograd, had expressed her doubts: "So there is no 
more slavery and that's it?" So what about the things "that 'Nicholas of yesterday' did to us 
in Kishinev [in regard to the Kishinev pogrom]?" [42]) In another article David Aizman thus 
elaborated his thought: "Jews must secure the gains of revolution by any means ... without 
any qualms. Any necessary sacrifice must be made. Everything is on the stake here and all 
will be lost if we hesitate.... Even the most backward parts of Jewish mass understand this." 
"No one questions what would happen to Jews if the counter-revolution prevails." He was 
absolutely confident that if that happens there would be mass executions of Jews. Therefore, 
"the filthy scum must be crushed even before it had any chance to develop, in embryo. Their 
very seed must be destroyed.... Jews will be able to defend their freedom."[43] 

Crushed in embryo.... And even their very seed.... It was already pretty much the Bolshevik 
program, though expressed in the words of Old Testament. Yet whose seed must be 


destroyed? Monarchists'? But they were already breathless; all their activists could be 
counted on fingers. So it could only be those who had taken a stand against the unbridled, 
running wild Soviets, against all kinds of committees and mad crowds; those, who wished to 
halt the breakdown of life in the country - prudent ordinary people, former government 
officials, and first of all officers and very soon the soldier-general Kornilov. There were Jews 
among those counter-revolutionaries, but overall that movement was the Russian national 

What about press? In 1917, the influence of print media grew; the number of periodicals and 
associated journalists and staff was rising. Before the revolution, only a limited number of 
media workers qualified for draft deferral, and only those who were associated with 
newspapers and printing offices which were established in the pre-war years. (They were 
classified as 'defense enterprises' despite their desperate fight against governmental and 
military censorship.) But now, from April, on the insistence of the publishers, press privileges 
were expanded with respect to the number of workers exempt from military service; newly 
founded political newspapers were henceforth also covered by the exemption (sometimes 
fraudulently as the only thing needed to qualify was maintaining a circulation of 30,000 for 
at least two weeks). Draft privileges were introduced on the basis of youth, for the 'political 
emigrants' and those 'released from exile' - everything that favored employment of new 
arrivals in the leftist newspapers. At the same time, rightist newspapers were being closed: 
Malenkaya Gazeta [Small Newspaper] and Narodnaya Gazeta [People's Newspaper] were 
shut down for accusing Bolsheviks of having links with Germans. When many newspapers 
published the telegrams fraudulently attributed to the Empress and the fake was exposed (it 
was "an innocent joke of a telegraph operator lady," for which, of course, she was never 
disciplined) and so they had to retract their pieces, Birzhevye Vedomosti, for instance, had 
produced such texts: "It turned out that neither the special archive at the Main Department 
of Post and Telegraph, where the royal telegrams were stored, nor the head office of 
telegraph contain any evidence of this correspondence." [44] See, they presented it as if the 
telegrams were real but all traces of their existence had been skillfully erased. What a brave 
free press! 


As early as in the beginning of March the prudent Vinaver had warned the Jewish public: 
"Apart from love for freedom, self-control is needed.... It is better for us to avoid highly 
visible and prominent posts.... Do not hurry to practice our rights."[45] We know that 
Vinaver (and also Dan, Liber and Branson) "at different times have been offered minister 
posts, but all of them refused, believing that Jews should not be present in Russian 
Government." The attorney Vinaver could not, of course, reject his sensational appointment 
to the Senate, where he became one of four Jewish Senators (together with G. Blumenfeld, 
O. Gruzenberg, and I. Gurevich).[46] There were no Jews among the ministers but four 
influential Jews occupied posts of deputy ministers: V. Gurevich was a deputy to Avksentiev, 


the Minister of Internal Affairs; S. Lurie was in the Ministry of Trade and Industry; S. 
Schwartz and A. Ginzburg-Naumov - in the ministry of Labor; and P. Rutenberg should be 
mentioned here too. From July, A. Galpern became the chief of the administration of the 
Provisional Government (after V. Nabokov)[47]; the director of 1st Department in the 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs was A. N. Mandelshtam. The assistant to the head of the Moscow 
military district was Second Lieutenant Sher (since July 1917); from May, the head of foreign 
supply department at General Staff was A. Mikhelson; the commissar of the Provisional 
Government in the field construction office was Naum Glazberg; several Jews were 
incorporated by Chernov into the Central Land Committee responsible for everything related 
to allotting land to peasants. Of course, most of those were not key posts, having negligibly 
small influence when compared to the principal role of the Executive Committee, whose 
ethnic composition would soon become a hotly debated public worry. 

At the August Government Conference dedicated to the disturbing situation in the country, 
apart from the representatives of Soviets, parties, and guilds, a separate representation was 
granted to the ethnic groups of Russia, with Jews represented by eight delegates, including G. 
Sliozberg, M. Liber, N. Fridman, G. Landau, and O. Gruzenberg. 

The favorite slogan of 1917 was "Expand the Revolution!" All socialist parties worked to 
implement it. I. O. Levin writes: "There is no doubt that Jewish representation in the 
Bolshevik and other parties which facilitated "expanding of revolution" -Mensheviks, 
Socialist Revolutionaries, etc. -with respect to both general Jewish membership and Jewish 
presence among the leaders, greatly exceeds the Jewish share in the population of Russia. 
This is an indisputable fact; while its reasons should be debated, its factual veracity is 
unchallengeable and its denial is pointless"; and "a certainly convincing explanation of this 
phenomenon by Jewish inequality before the March revolution ... is still not sufficiently 
exhaustive."[48] Members of central committees of the socialist parties are known. 
Interestingly, Jewish representation in the leadership of Mensheviks, the Right and the Left 
Socialist Revolutionaries, and the Anarchists was much greater than among the Bolshevik 
leaders. At the Socialist Revolutionary Congress, which took place in the end of May and 
beginning of June 1917, 39 out of 318 delegates were Jewish, and out of 20 members of the 
Central Committee of the party elected during the Congress, 7 were Jewish. A. Gotz was one 
of the leaders of the right wing faction and M. Natanson was among the leaders of the left 
Socialist Revolutionaries."[49] (What a despicable role awaited Natanson, "the wise Mark," 
one of the founder of Russian Narodnichestvo ["Populism"]! During the war, living abroad, 
he was receiving financial aid from Germany. In May 1917 he returned in Russia in one of the 
'extraterritorial trains' across Germany; in Russia, he had immediately endorsed Lenin and 
threw his weight in support of the latter's goal of dissolving the Constituent Assembly; 
actually, it was he who had voiced this idea first, though Lenin, of course, needed no such 


Local government elections took place in the summer. Overall, socialist parties were 
victorious, and "Jews actively participated in the local and municipal work in a number of 
cities and towns outside of the [former] Pale of Settlement." For instance, Socialist 
Revolutionary O. Minor .became head of the Moscow City Duma; member of the Central 
Committee of the Bund, A. Vainshtein (Rakhmiel),of the Minsk Duma; Menshevik I. Polonsky, 
of the Ekaterinoslav Duma, Bundist D. Chertkov, of the Saratov Duma." G. Shreider had 
become the mayor of Petrograd, and A. Ginzburg-Naumov was elected a deputy mayor in 
Kiev." [50] 

But most of these persons were gone with the October coup and it was not they who shaped 
the subsequent developments in Russia. It would become the lot of those who now occupied 
much lower posts, mostly in the Soviets; they were numerous and spread all over the 
country: take, for instance, Khinchuk, head of the Moscow Soviet of Workers' Deputies, or 
Nasimovich and M. Trilisserof the Irkutsk Soviet (the latter would laterserve in the Central 
Executive Committee of the Soviets of Siberia and become a famous Chekist).[51] 

All over the provinces "Jewish socialist parties enjoyed large representation in the Soviets of 
Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. "[52] They were also prominently presented at the All- 
Russian Democratic Conference in September 1917, which annoyed Lenin so much that he 
had even demanded surrounding the Alexandrinsky Theater with troops and arresting the 
entire assembly. (The theater's superintendent, comrade Nashatyr, would have to act on the 
order, but Trotsky had dissuaded Lenin.) And even after the October coup, the Moscow 
Soviet of Soldiers' Deputies had among its members, according to Bukharin, "dentists, 
pharmacists, etc., - representatives of trades as close to the soldier's profession as to that of 
the Chinese Emperor."[53] 

But above all of that, above all of Russia, from the spring to the autumn of 1917, stood the 
power of one body - and it was not the Provisional Government. It was the powerful and 
insular Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, and later, after June, the successorto 
its power, the Ail-Russian Central Executive Committee (CEC) - it was they who had in fact 
ruled over Russia. While appearing solid and determined from outside, in reality they were 
being torn apart by internal contradictions and inter-factional ideological confusion. Initially, 
the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies 
unanimously approved the Order No. 1, but later was doubtful about the war - whether to 
continue destroying army or to strengthen it. (Quite unexpectedly, they declared their 
support for the Freedom Loan; thus they had incensed the Bolsheviks but agreed with the 
public opinion on this issue, including the attitudes of liberal Jews.) 

The Presidium of the first Ail-Russian CEC of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies 
(the first governing Soviet body) consisted of nine men. Among them were the Social 
Revolutionaries (SRs) A. Gots and M. Gendelman, the Menshevik, F. Dan, and the member of 
Bund, M. Liber. (In March at the Ail-Russian Conference of the Soviets, Gendelman and 
Steklov had demanded stricter conditions be imposed on the Tsar's family, which was under 


house arrest, and also insisted on the arrest of all crown princes - this is how confident they 
were in their power.) The prominent Bolshevik, L. Kamenev, was among the members of 
that Presidium. It also included the Georgian, Chkheidze; the Armenian, Saakjan; one 
Krushinsky, most likely a Pole; and Nikolsky, likely a Russian -quite an impudent [ethnic] 
composition for the governing organ of Russia in such a critical time. 

Apart from the CEC of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, there was also the All- 
Russian Executive Committee of the Soviet of Peasants' Deputies, elected in the end of May. 
Of its 30 members, there were only three actual peasants - an already habitual sham of the 
pre-Bolshevik regime. Of those thirty, D. Pasmanik identified seven Jews: "a sad thing it was, 
especially considering Jewish interests"; and "they had become an eyesore to 
everybody." [54] Then this peasant organ put forward a list of its candidates for the future 
Constituent Assembly. Apart from Kerensky, the list contained several Jews, such as the 
boisterous llya Rubanovich, who had just arrived from Paris, the terrorist Abram Gots, and 
the little-known Gurevich...[55] (In the same article, there was a report on the arrest for 
desertion of warrant officer M. Golman, the head of the Mogilev Guberniya, a Peasant 

Of course, the actions of the executive committees could not be solely explained by their 
ethnic composition - not at all! (Many of those personalities irreversibly distanced 
themselves from their native communities and had even forgotten the way to their shtetls.) 
All of them sincerely believed that because of their talents and revolutionary spirit, they 
would have no problem arranging workers', soldiers' and peasants' matters in the best way 
possible. They would manage it better simply because of being more educated and smarter 
than all this clumsy hoi polloi. 

Yet for many Russians, from commoner toa general, this sudden, eye-striking transformation 
in the appearance among the directors and orators at rallies and meetings, in command and 
in government, was overwhelming. 

V. Stankevich, the only officer-socialist in the Executive Committee, provided an example: 
"this fact [of the abundance of Jews in the Committee] alone had enormous influence on the 
public opinion and sympathies.... Noteworthy, when Kornilov met with the Committee for 
the first time, he had accidently sat in the midst of Jews; in front of him sat two insignificant 
and plain members of the Committee, whom I remember merely because of their 
grotesquely Jewish facial features. Who knows how that affected Kornilov's attitudes toward 
Russian revolution?" [57] 

Yet the treatment of all things Russian by the new regime was very tale-telling. Here is an 
example from the "days of Kornilov" in the end of August 1918. Russia was visibly dying, 
losing the war, with its army corrupted and the rear in collapse. General Kornilov, cunningly 
deceived by Kerensky, artlessly appealed to the people, almost howling with pain: "Russian 
people! Our great Motherland is dying. The hour of her death is nigh.... All, whose bosoms 


harbor a beating Russian heart, go to the temples and pray to God to grant us the greatest 
miracle of salvation for our beloved country!"[58] In response to that the ideologist of the 
February Revolution and one of the leading members of the Executive Committee, Gimmer- 
Sukhanov, chuckled in amusement: "What an awkward, silly, clueless, politically illiterate call 
... what a lowbrow imitation of Suzdalshchina ['Suzdalshchina' refers to resistance in Suzdal 
to the Mongol invaders] !"[59] 

Yes, it sounded pompously and awkwardly, without a clear political position. Indeed, 
Kornilov was not a politician but his heart ached. And what about Sukhanov's heart - did he 
feel any pain at all? He did not have any sense of the living land and culture, nor he had any 
urge to preserve them - he served to his ideology only, the International, seeing in Kornilov's 
words a total lack of ideological content. Yes, his response was caustic. But note that he had 
not only labeled Kornilov's appeal an 'imitation', he had also derogatorily referred to 
'Suzdalshchina,' to Russian history, ancient art and sanctity. And with such disdain to the 
entire Russian historical heritage, all that internationalist ilk - Sukhanov and his henchmen 
from the malicious Executive Committee, steered the February Revolution. 

And it was not the ethnic origin of Sukhanov and the rest; it was their anti-national, anti- 
Russian and anti-conservative attitudes. We have seen similarattitudes on the part of the 
Provisional Government too, with its task of governing the entire Russia and its quite Russian 
ethnic composition. Yet did it display a Russian worldview or represent Russian interests if 
only a little? Not at all! The Government's most consistent and 'patriotic' activity was to 
guide the already unraveling country (the 'Kronstadt Republic' was not the only place which 
had "seceded from Russia" by that time) to the victory in war! To the victory at any cost! 
With loyalty to the allies! (Sure, the allies, theirgovernments, public and financers, put 
pressure on Russia. For instance, in May, Russian newspapers cited The Morning Post from 
Washington: "America made it clear to the Russian government" that if [Russia] makes a 
separate peace [with Germany], the United States would "annul all financial agreements 
with Russia." [60] Prince Lvov [Prince Georgi Lvov, led the Russian Provisional Government 
during the Russian revolution's initial phase, from March 1917 until he relinquished control 
to Alexander Kerensky in July 1917] upheld the sentiment: "The country must determinately 
send its army to battle. "[61]) They had no concern about consequences of the ongoing war 
for Russia. And this mismatch, this loss of sense of national self-preservation, could be 
observed almost at every meeting of the Provisional Government cabinet, almost in every 

There were simply ridiculous incidents. Throwing millions of rubles left and right and always 
keenly supporting "cultural needs of ethnic minorities," the Provisional Government at its 
April 6 meeting had rejected the request of the long-established "Great Russian Orchestra of 
V. V. Andreev" to continue getting paid as before, "from the funds of the former His 
Majesty's Personal Chancellery" (the funds were confiscated by the Provisional Government 
itself). The petition was turned down despite the fact that the requested sum, 30 thousand 


rubles per year, was equivalent to the annual pay of just three minister assistants. "Deny!" 
(Why not disband your so-called "Great Russian" orchestra? - What kind of name is that?) 
Taken aback and believing that it was just a misunderstanding, Andreev petitioned again. Yet 
with an unusual for this torpid government determination, he was refused a second time too, 
at the April 27 meeting. [62] 

Milyukov, a Russian historian and minister of the Provisional Government, did not utter a 
single specifically Russian sentiment during that year. Similarly, "the key figure of the 
revolution," Alexander Kerens ky, could not be at any stage accused of possessing an ethnic 
Russian consciousness. Yet at the same time the government demonstrated constant 
anxious bias against any conservative circles, and especially -against Russian conservatives. 
Even during his last speech in the Council of the Russian Republic (Pre-Parliament) on 
October 24, when Trotsky's troops were already seizing Petrograd building after building, 
Kerensky emphatically argued that the Bolshevik newspaper Rabochy Put (Worker's Way) 
and the right-wing Novaya Rus (New Russia) - both of which Kerensky had just shut down - 
shared similar political views.... 

* * * 

The "darned incognito" of the members of the Executive Committee was, of course, noticed 
by the public. Initially it was the educated society of Petrograd that was obsessed with this 
question, which several times surfaced in newspapers. For two months, the Committee tried 
to keep the secret, but by May they had no other choice but reveal themselves and had 
published the actual names of most of the pseudonym-holders (except for Steklov- 
Nakhamkis and Boris Osipovich Bogdanov, the energetic permanent chair of the council; 
they had managed to keep their identities secret for a while; the tatter's name confused the 
public by similarity with another personality, Bogdanov-Malinovsky). This odd secrecy 
irritated the public, and even ordinary citizens began asking questions. It was a Iready typical 
in May that if, during a plenary meeting of the Soviet, someone proposed Zinovievor 
Kamenev for something, the public shouted from the auditorium demanding their true 

Concealing true names was incomprehensible to the ordinary man of that time: only thieves 
hide and change their names. Why is Boris Katz ashamed of his name, and instead calling 
himself "Kamkov"? Why does Lurie hide under the alias of "Larin"? Why does Mandelshtam 
use the pseudonym "Lyadov"? Many of these had aliases that originated out of necessity in 
their past underground life, but what had compelled the likes of Shotman, the Socialist 
Revolutionary from Tomsk, (and not him alone) to become "Danilov" in 1917? 

Certainly, the goal of a revolutionary, hiding behind a pseudonym, is to outsmart someone, 
and that may include not only the police and government. In this way, ordinary people as 
well are unable to figure out who their new leaders are. 


Intoxicated by the freedom of the first months of the February Revolution, many Jewish 
activists and orators failed to notice that their constant fussing around presidiums and rallies 
produced certain bewilderment and wry glances. By the time of the February Revolution 
there was no "popular anti-Semitism" in the internal regions of Russia, it was confined 
exclusively to the areas of the Pale of Settlement. (For instance, Abraham Cogan had even 
stated in 1917: "We loved Russia despite all the oppression from the previous regime 
because we knew that it was not the Russian people" behind it but Tsarism.[63]) But after 
just a few months following the February Revolution, resentment against Jews had suddenly 
flared up among the masses of people and spread over Russia, growing stronger with each 
passing month. And even the official newspapers reported, for instance, on the exasperation 
in the waiting lines in the cities. "Everything has been changed in that twinkle of the eye that 
created a chasm between the old and the new Russia. But it is queues that have changed the 
most. Strangely, while everything has moved to the left, the food lines have moved to the 
right. If you ... would like to hear Black Hundred propaganda ... then go and spend some time 
in a waiting line." Among other things you will find out that "there are virtually no Jews in 
the lines, they don't need it as they have enough bread hoarded." The same "gossip about 
Jews who tuck away bread" rolls from another end of the line as well; "the waiting lines is 
the most dangerous source of counterrevolution." [64] The author Ivan Nazhivin noted that 
in the autumn in Moscow anti-Semitic propaganda fell on ready ears in the hungry 
revolutionary queues: "What rascals! ... They wormed themselves onto the very top! ... See, 
how proudly they ride in their cars.... Sure, not a single Yid can be found in the lines here.... 
Just you wait!"[65] 

Any revolution releases a flood of obscenity, envy, and anger from the people. The same 
happened among the Russian people, with their weakened Christian spirituality. And so the 
Jews - many of whom had ascended to the top, to visibility, and, what is more, who had not 
concealed their revolutionary jubilation, nor waited in the miserable lines -increasingly 
became a target of popular resentment. 

Many instances of such resentment were documented in 1917 newspapers. Below are 
several examples. When, at the Apraksin market on Sennaya Square, a hoard of goods was 
discovered in possession of Jewish merchants, "people began shout ... 'plunder Jewish 
shops!', because 'Yids are responsible for all the troubles' ... and this word 'Yid' is on 
everyone's lips."[66] A stockpile of flour and bacon was found in the store of a merchant 
(likely a Jew) in Poltava. The crowd started plundering his shop and then began calling fora 
Jewish pogrom. Later, several members of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies, including 
Drobnis, arrived and attempted to appease the crowd; as a result, Drobnis was beaten. [67] 
In October in Ekaterinoslav soldiers trashed small shops, shouting "Smashthe bourgeois! 
Smash the Yids!" In Kiev at the Vladimirsky market a boy had hit a woman, who tried to buy 
flour out her turn on the head Instantly, the crowd started yelling "the Yids are beating the 
Russians!" and a brawl ensued. (Note that it had happened in the same Kiev where one 
could already see the streamers "Long live free Ukraine without Yids and Poles!") By that 


time "Smash the Yids!" could be heard in almost every street brawl, even in Petrograd, and 
often completely without foundation. For instance, in a Petrograd streetcar two women 
"called for disbanding of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, filled, according to 
them, exclusively by 'Germans and Yids'. Both were arrested and called to account." [68] 

Newspaper Russkaya Volya (Russian Freedom) reported: "Right in front of our eyes, anti- 
Semitism, in its most primitive form ... re-arises and spreads.... It is enough to hear to 
conversations in streetcars [in Petrograd] or in waiting lines to various shops, or in the 
countless fleeting rallies at every corner and crossroad ... they accuse Jews of political 
stranglehold, of seizing parties and Soviets, and even of ruining the army ... of looting and 
hoarding goods. "[69] 

Many Jewish socialists, agitators in the front units, enjoyed unlimited success during the 
spring months when calls for a "democratic peace" were tolerated and fighting was not 
required. Then nobody blamed them for being Jewish. But in June when the policy of the 
Executive Committee had changed toward support and even propaganda for the offensive, 
calls of "smash the Yids!" began appearing and those Jewish persuaders suffered battering 
by unruly soldiers time and time again. 

Rumors were spreading that the Executive Committee in Petrograd was "seized by Yids." By 
June this belief had taken root in the Petrograd garrison and factories; this is exactly what 
soldiers shouted to the member of the Committee Voitinsky who had visited an infantry 
regiment to dissuade the troops from the looming demonstration conceived by Bolsheviks 
on June 10. 

V. D. Nabokov, hardly known for anti-Semitism, joked that the meeting of the foremen of 
the Pre-Parliament in October 1917 "could be safely called a Sanhedrin": its majority was 
Jewish; of Russians, there were only Avksentiev, me, Peshekhonov, and Chaikovsky...." His 
attention was drawn to that fact by Mark Vishnyakwho was present there also. [70] 

By autumn, the activity of Jews in power had created such an effect that even Iskry (Sparks), 
the illustrated supplement to the surpassingly gentle Russkoe Slovo (Russian Word) that 
would until then never dare defying public opinion in such a way, had published an abrasive 
anti-Jewish caricature in the October 29 issue, that is, already during fights of the October 
coup in Moscow. 

The Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies actively fought 
against anti-Semitism. (I cannot rule out that the harsh refusal to accept the well-deserved 
Plekhanov into the CEC in April 1917 was a kind of revenge for his anti-Bund referral to the 
"tribe of Gad," which was mentioned in Lenin's publications. [71]lndeed, I cannot provide any 
other explanation.) On July 21 the 1st Ail-Russian Congress of Soviets had issued a 
proclamation about a struggle against anti-Semitism ("about the only resolution approved by 
the Congress unanimously, without any objections or arguments"[72]). When in the end of 
June (28th and 29th) the re-elected Bureau of the CEC had assembled, they had heard a 


report on "the rise of anti-Semitic agitation ... mainly in the northwestern and southwestern" 
guberniyas; a decision was made immediately to send a delegation of 15 members of the 
CEC with special powers there[73], subordinating them to the direction of the "Department 
on the Struggle against Counter-Revolution." 

On the other hand, Bolsheviks, who advanced their agenda under the slogan "Down with the 
ministers-capitalists!" not only did nothing to alleviate this problem, they even fanned its 
flames (along with the anarchists, despite the fact that the latter were headed by one 
Bleikhman). They claimed that the Executive Committee was so exceptionally lenient toward 
the government only because capitalists and Jews control everything (isn'tthat reminiscent 
of Narodnaya Volya [the People's Will terrorist organization] of 1881?). 

And when the Bolshevik uprising of July 3-4 broke out (itwas in fact targeted not againstthe 
already impotent Provisional Government but againstthe Bolshevik's true competitor - 
Executive Committee), the Bolsheviks slyly exploited the anger of soldiers toward Jews by 
pointing them to that very body - see, there they are! 

But when the Bolsheviks had lost their uprising, the CEC had conducted an official 
investigation and many members of the commission of inquiry were Jews from the 
presidium of the CEC. And because of their "socialist conscience" they dared not call the 
Bolshevik uprising a crime and deal with it accordingly. So the commission had yielded no 
result and was soon liquidated. 

During the garrison meeting, arranged by the CEC on October 19, just before the decisive 
Bolshevik uprising, "one of representatives of 176th Infantry Regiment, a Jew," warned that 
"those people down on the streets scream that Jews are responsible for all the wrongs."[74] 
At the CEC meeting during the night of October 25, Gendelman reported that when he was 
giving a speech in the Peter and Paul Fortress earlier that afternoon he was taunted: "You 
are Gendelman! That is you are a Yid and a Rightist!"[75] When on October 27 Gotz and his 
delegation to Kerens ky tried to depart to Gatchina from the Baltiysky Rail Terminal, he was 
nearly killed by sailors who screamed that "the Soviets are controlled by Yids."[76] And 
during the 'wine pogroms' on the eve of the 'glorious Bolshevik victory,' the calls "Slaughter 
Yids!" were heard also. 

And yet there was not a single Jewish pogrom over the whole year of 1917. The infamous 
outrageous pogroms inKalusha and Ternopol were in fact the work of frenzied drunken 
revolutionary soldiers, retreating in disorder. They smashed everything on their way, all 
shops and stores; and because most of those were Jewish-owned, the word spread about 
'Jewish pogroms'. A similar pogrom took place in Stanislavov, with its much smaller Jewish 
population, and quite reasonably it was not labeled a 'Jewish' pogrom. 

Already by the mid-summer of 1917 the Jews felt threatened by the embittered population 
(or drunken soldiers), but the ongoing collapse of the state was fraught with incomparably 
greater dangers. Amazingly, it seems that both the Jewish community and the press, the 


latterto a large extent identified with the former, learned nothing from the formidable 
experiences of 1917 in general, but narrowly looked at the "isolated manifestations of 
pogroms." And so time after time they missed the real danger. The executive power 
behaved similarly. When the Germans breached the front at Ternopol in the night of July 10, 
the desperate joint meeting of the CEC of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and 
the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Peasants' Deputies had taken place. They had 
acknowledged that should the revolution perish, the country crumbles down (in that exact 
order), and then named Provisional Government a "Government for Salvation of the 
Revolution," and noted in their appeal to the people that "dark forces are again prepared to 
torment our longsuffering Motherland. They are setting backward masses upon the 
Jews." [77] 

On July 18 at a panel session of the State Duma, in an extremely small circle, Rep. 
Maslennikov spoke against the Executive Committee and among other things spelled out the 
real names of its members. On the very same evening at the factional meeting of the CEC 
they beat an alarm: "This is a case of counterrevolution, it must be dealt with according to 
the recently issued decree of the Minister of Internal Affairs Tserete I i on suppression of 
counterrevolution! (The decree was issued in response to the Bolshevik uprising, though it 
was never used against Bolsheviks.) In two days Maslennikov made excuses in an article in 
the newspaper Rech [Speech]: indeed, he named Steklov, Kamenev, and Trotsky but never 
intended to incite anger against the entire Jewish people, and "anyway, attacking them, I 
had absolutely no wish to make Jewish people responsible for the actions of these 

Then, in mid-September, when the all gains of the February Revolution were already 
irreversibly ruined, on the eve of the by now imminent Bolshevik coup, Ya. Kantorovich 
warned in Rech about the danger that: "The dark forces and evil geniuses of Russia will soon 
emerge from their dens to jubilantly perform Black Masses...." Indeed, it will happen soon. 
Yet what kind of Black masses? -"...Of bestial patriotism and pogrom-loving 'truly-Russian' 
national identity." [79] In October in Petrograd I. Trumpeldor had organized Jewish self- 
defense forces for protection against pogroms, but they were never needed. 

Indeed, Russian minds were confused, and so were Jewish ones. 

Several years after the revolution, G. Landau, looking back with sadness, wrote: "Jewish 
participation in the Russian turmoil had astonishingly suicidal overtones in it; I am referring 
not only to their role in Bolshevism, but to their involvement in the whole thing. And it is not 
just about the huge number of politically active people, socialists and revolutionaries, who 
have joined the revolution; I am talking mainly about the broad sympathy of the masses it 
was met with.... Although many harbored pessimistic expectations, in particular, an 
anticipation of pogroms, they were still able to reconcile such a foreboding with an 
acceptance of turmoil which unleashed countless miseries and pogroms. It resembled the 
fatal attraction of butterflies to fire, to the annihilating fire.... It is certain there were some 


strong motives pushing the Jews into that direction, and yet those were clearly suicidal.... 
Granted, Jews were not different in that from the rest of Russian intelligentsia and from the 
Russian society.... Yet we had to be different ... we, the ancient people of city-dwellers, 
merchants, artisans, intellectuals ... we had to be different from the people of land and 
power, from peasants, landowners, officials."[80] 

And let's not forget those who were different. We must always remember that Jewry was 
and is very heterogeneous, that attitudes and actions vary greatly among the Jews. So it was 
with the Russian Jewry in 1917: in provinces and even in the capital there were circles with 
reasonable views and they were growing as October was getting closer. 

The Jewish stance toward Russian unity during the months when Russia was pulled apart not 
only by other nations, but even by Siberians, was remarkable. "All over the course of 
revolution Jews, together with Great Russians, were among the most ardent champions of 
the idea of Great Russia."[81] Now, when Jews had gotten their equal rights, what could 
they have in common with different peoples on the periphery of the former empire? And yet 
the disintegration of a united country would fracture Jewry. In July at the 9th Congress of 
Constitutional Democrats, Vinaverand Nolde openly argued against territorial partition of 
peoples and in favor of Russian unity.[82] Also in September, in the national section of the 
Democratic Conference, the Jewish socialists spoke against any federalization of Russia (in 
that they had joined the Centralists). Today they write in an Israeli magazine that 
Trumpeldor's Jewish detachments "backed the Provisional Government and had even foiled 
the Kornilov's mutiny."[83] Perhaps. However, in rigorously studying events of 1917, I did 
not encounter any such information. But I am aware of opposite instances: in early May 
1917 in the thundering patriotic and essentially counter-revolutionary "Black Sea Delegation," 
the most successful orator calling forthe defense of Russia was Jewish sailor Batkin. 

D. Pasmanik had published the letters of millionaire steamship owner Shulim Bespalovto the 
Minister of Trade and Industry Shakhovsky dated as early as September 1915: "Excessive 
profits made by all industrialists and traders lead our Motherland to the imminent wreck." 
He had donated half a million rubles to the state and proposed to establish a law limiting all 
profits by 15%. Unfortunately, these self-restricting measures were not introduced as 'rush 
to freedom' progressives, such as Konovalov and Ryabushinsky, did not mind making 100% 
war profits. When Konovalov himself became the Minister of Trade and Industry, Shulim 
Bespalov wrote to him on July 5, 1917: "Excessive profits of industrialists are ruining our 
country, now we must take 50% of the value of their capitals and property," and added that 
he is ready to part with 50% of his own assets. Konovalov paid no heed. [84] 

In August, at the Moscow Ail-Russian State Conference, O. O. Gruzenberg (a future member 
of the Constituent Assembly) stated: "These days the Jewish people ... are united in their 
allegiance to our Motherland, in unanimous aspiration to defend her integrity and 
achievements of democracy" and were prepared to give for her defense "all their material 


and intellectual assets, to part with everything precious, with the flower of their people, all 
their young." [85] 

These words reflected the realization that the February regime was the best for the Russian 
Jewry, promising economic progress as well as political and cultural prosperity. And that 
realization was adequate. 

The closer it got to to October coup and the more apparent the Bolshevik threat, the wider 
this realization spread among Jews, leading them to oppose Bolshevism. It was taking root 
even among socialist parties and during the October coup many Jewish socialists were 
actively against it. Yet they were debilitated by their socialist views and their opposition was 
limited by negotiations and newspaper articles - until the Bolsheviks shutdown those 
news pa pers. 

It is necessary to state explicitly that the October coup was not carried by Jews (though it 
was under the general command of Trotsky and with energetic actions of young Grigory 
Chudnovsky during the arrest of Provisional Government and the massacre of the defenders 
of the Winter Palace). Broadly speaking, the common rebuke, that the 170-million-people 
could not be pushed into Bolshevism by a small Jewish minority, is justified. Indeed, we had 
ourselves sealed our fate in 1917, through our foolishness from February to October- 

The October coup proved a devastating lot for Russia. Yet the state of affairs even before it 
promised little good to the people. We had already lost responsible statesmanship and the 
events of 1917 had proved it in excess. The best Russia could expect was an inept, feeble, 
and disorderly pseudo-democracy, unable to rely on enough citizens with developed legal 
consciousness and economic independence. 

After October fights in Moscow, representatives of the Bund and Poale-Zion had taken part 
in the peace negotiations - not in alliance with the Junkers or the Bolsheviks — but as a third 
independent party. There were many Jews among Junkers of the Engineers School who 
defended the Winter Palace on October 25: in the memoirs of Sinegub, a palace defender, 
Jewish names appear regularly; I personally knew one such engineer from my prison 
experience. And during the Odessa City Duma elections the Jewish block had opposed the 
Bolsheviks and won, though only marginally. 

During the Constituent Assembly elections "more than 80% of Jewish population in Russia 
had voted" for Zionist parties. [86] Lenin wrote that 550 thousands voted for Jewish 
nationalists. [87] "Most Jewish parties have formed a united national list of candidates; seven 
deputies were elected from that list -six Zionists" and Gruzenberg. The success of Zionists 
was facilitated by the recently published declaration of British Minister of Foreign Affairs 
Balfour on the establishment of 'Jewish national home' in Palestine, which was "met with 
enthusiasm by the majority of Russian Jewry (celebratory demonstrations, rallies and 
worship services took place in Moscow, Petrograd, Odessa, Kiev and many other cities). "[88] 


Prior to the October coup, Bolshevism was not very influential among Jews. But just before 
the uprising, Natanson, Kamkov, and Shteinberg on behalf of the left Socialist 
Revolutionaries had signed a combat pact with Bolsheviks Trotsky and Kamenev.[89] And 
some Jews distinguished themselves among the Bolsheviks in their very first victories and 
some even became famous. The commissar of the famed Latvian regiments of the 12th 
Army, which did so much for the success of Bolshevik coup, was Semyon Nakhimson. "Jewish 
soldiers played a notable role during preparation and execution of the armed uprising of 
October 1917 in Petrograd and other cities, and also during suppression of mutinies and 
armed resurrections against the new Soviet regime. "[90] 

It is widely known that during the 'historical' session of the Congress of Soviets on October 
27 two acts, the 'Decree on Land' and the 'Decree on Peace', were passed. But it didn't leave 
a mark in history that after the 'Decree on Peace' but before the 'Decree on Land' another 
resolution was passed. It declared it "a matter of honor for local Soviets to prevent Jewish 
and any other pogroms by dark forces."[91](Pogroms by 'Red forces of light' were not 

So even here, at the Congress of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies, the Jewish question was 
put ahead of the peasant one. 


[I] Delo Naroda, March 25, 1917, p. 3 

[2] Russkaya Volya, April 14, 1917, p. 1; April 20, p. l.See alsoRech, April 16, 1917, p. 1; April 20, p. 1. 

[3] Russkaya Volya, April 23,1917,p.4. 

[4] Birzhevye Vedomosti, May24, 1917, p. 2. 

[5] See, forinstance, Russkaya Volya, MaylO, 1917,p. 5; Birzhevye Vedomosti, May 9, 1917,p. 5; Birzhevye 
Vedomosti, June 1, 1917, p. 6; Rech, July 29, 1917, p. 6. 

[6] Kratkaya Evreiskaya Entsiklopediya [The Short Jewish Encyclopedia (henceforth— SJE)]. Jerusalem, 1994. v. 7, 
p. 399. 

[7] I bid., p. 380-381. 
[8] Ibid., p. 379. 

[9] G. Aronson. Evreyskaya obshchestvennost v Rossii v 1917-1918 [The Jewish Public in Russia in 1917-1918]// 
Kniga o russkomevreystve: 1917-1967 [The Book of Russian Jewry: 1917-1967 (henceforth — BRJ-2)]. New 
York: Association of Russian Jews, 1968,p. 6. 

[10] SJE, v.7, p. 378. 

[II] Izvestiya, April 9,1917, p. 4. 
[12] SJE, v.7, p. 378-379. 

[13] SJE, v.7, p. 378. 


[14] Izvestiya, September 15, 1917, p. 2. 
[15] SJE, v.6, p. 85; v.7, p. 379. 
[16] SJE, v.7, p. 378. 

[17] Birzhevye Vedomosti, April 12, 1917, p. 4. 
[18] SJE, v.6, p. 463,464. 

[19] D. Pasmanik.Chego zhe my dobivaemsya? [What are we struggl ingfor?] // Rossiya i evrekOtechestvennoe 
objedinenierusskikh evreev za granitsei [Russia and Jews: Expatriate Society of Russian Jews in Exile 
(henceforth— RJ)]. Paris, YMCA-Press, 1978, p. 211 [The 1st Edition: Berl in, Osnova, 1924]. 

[20] SJE, v.7, p. 378. 

[21] Ibid., p. 379. 

[22] Ibid., p. 380-381. 

[23] Ibid., p. 379. 

[24] Rech, April 27, 1917, p. 3. 

[25] SJE, v.7, p. 378. 

[26] Russkaya Volya, April 25, 1917, p. 5. 

[27] A. I. Denikin.Ocherki russkoi smuty.Vl: Krushenie vlasti I armii,fevral-sentyabrl917 [Russian Turmoil . 
Memoirs. VI: Collapseof Authority and Army]. Paris, 1922, p. 129-130. 

[28] SJE, v.7, p. 379. 

[29] Bi rzhevye Vedomosti, May 5, 1917, p. 2. 
[30] SJE, v.4, p. 775. 
[31] SJE, v.5, p. 475. 

[32] Obshchee delo, October 14 and 16, 1917 

[33] A. Sutton. Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution. Translation from English, Moscow, 1998, p. 14-36. 
[34] Rech, June 27, 1917, p. 3; June 28, p. 2-3. 
[35] Rech, August 2, 1917, p. 3. 

[36] Russkaya Evreiskaya Entsiklopediya [The Russian Jewish Encyclopedia (henceforth — RJE)]. 2nd edition, 
Moscow, 1994- 1997. v. 1, p. 240,427; v. 2, p. 124; v. 3, p. 29, 179, 280. 

[37] RJE, v. 1, p.473;v. 3, p. 41. 

[38] Narodnoe soprotivlenie kommunismu v Rossii:Ural i Prikamye. Noyabr 1917- yanvar 1919 [People's 
Resistanceto Communism: Urals and Prikamye. November 1917 - January 1919. Redactor M. Bernshtam. Paris: 
YMCA-Press, 1982, p. 356. Volume 3 of the series Issledovaniya Noveishei Russkoi istorii [Studies of Modern 
Russian History]. 


[39] RJE, v. 2, p.85;v. 3, p. 106. 

[40] RJE, v. 3, p. 224, 505;v. 1, p. 239. 

[41] Rech, June 28,1917, p. 2. 

[42] Russkaya Volya, April 13,1917, p. 3. 

[43] Russkaya Volya, April 9, 1917, p. 3. 

[44] Birzhevye vedomosti, May 7, 1917, p. 3. 

[45] G. Aronson. Evreyskaya obshchestvennost v Rossii v 1917-1918 [The Jewish Public in Russiain 1917-1918]. 
// BRJ-2, p. 7. 

[46] RJE, v. 7, p. 381. 

[47] Ibid. 

[48] 1.0. Levin. Evrei v revolutsii [The Jews in the Revolution].// RJ, p. 124. 
[49] RJE, v. 7, p. 399. 

[50] G. Aronson. Evreyskaya obshchestvennostv Rossii v 1917-1918 [The Jewish Publ ic in Russia in 1917-1918] 
//BRJ-2, p. 10. RJE, v. 7, p. 381. 

[51] RJE, v. 3, p. 162, 293. 

[52] G. Aronson. Evreyskaya obshchestvennostv Rossii v 1917-1918 [The Jewish Public in Russiain 1917-1918] 
// BRJ-2, p. 7. 

[53] Izvestiya, November 8, 1917, p. 5. 

[54] D. S. Pasmanik. Russkaya revolutsia i evreistvo: (Bolshevism i iudaizm) [Russian Revolution and Jewry: 
Bolshevism and Judaism]. Paris, 1923, p. 153-154. 

[55] Rech, July 28, 1917, p. 3. 

[56] I bid.; see also G. Lelevich. Oktyabr v stavke [The October in the general Headquarters]. Gomel, 1922, p. 13, 

[57] V. B. Stankevich. Vospominaniya, 1914-1919 [Memoirs, 1914-1919]. Berlin, publ ishing house of I. P. 
Ladyzhnikov, 1920, p. 86-87. 

[58] A. I. Denikin.Ocherki russkoi smuty.Vl: Krushenie vlasti I armii,fevral-sentyabrl917 [Russian Turmoil . 
Memoirs. VI: Collapseof Authority and Army]. Paris, 1922, p. 216. 

[59] NikSukhanov. Zapiski o revolutsii [Memoirs of the Revolution]. Berlin, Publ ishing House of Z. I. Grzhebin, 
1923, v.5, p. 287. 

[60] Russkaya Volya, May 7, 1917, p. 4. 
[61] Ibid., p. 6. 

[62] Zhurnaly zasedanii Vremennogo Pravitelstva [Minutes ofthe meetings of the Provisional Government]. 
Petrograd, 1917. VI: March-May; April 6 meeting (book 44, p. 5) and April 27 meeting (book 64, p. 4). 


[63] Rech, June 28,1917, p. 2. 
[64] Rech, May 3, 1917, p. 6. 

[65] Ivan Nazhivin.Zapiski o revolutsii [Notes about Revolution]. Vienna, 1921, p. 28. 
[66] Rech, June 17, 1917, evening issue, p. 4. 
[67] Rech, September 9, 1917, p. 3. 
[68] Rech, August 8, 1917, p. 5. 

[69] Russkaya Volyajune 17, 1917, evening issue, p. 4. 

[70] V. Nabokov. Vremennoye pravitelstvo [The Provisional Government] // Archive of Russian Revolution, 
published byGessen. BerlimSlovo, 1922, v. 1, p. 80. 

[71] V. I. Lenin. Sochineniya [Works]. In 45 volumes, 4th Edition (henceforth — Lenin, 4th edition). Moscow, 
Gospolitizdat,1941-1967,v.4, p. 311. 

[72] Izvestiyajune 28, 1917, p. 5. 

[73] Izvestiyajune 30, 1917, p. 10. 

[74] Rech, October 20, 1917, p. 3. 

[75] Izvestiya, October 26, 1917, p. 2. 

[76] Delo Naroda, October 29, 1917, p. 1. 

[77] Rech, July 11, 1917, p. 3. 

[78] Rech, July 21, 1917, p. 4. 

[79] Rech, September 16, 1917, p. 3. 

[80] G. A. Landau. Revol utsionnye idei v evreiskoi obchshestvennosti [Revolutionary ideas in Jewish society]// 
RJ, p. 105, 106. 

[81] D. S. Pasmanik. Russkaya revol utsia i evreistvo: (Bolshevism i iudaizm) [Russian Revolution and Jewry: 
Bolshevism and Judaism]. Paris, 1923, p. 245. 

[82] Rech, July 26, 1917, p. 3. 

[83] I. Eldad. Tak kto zhe nasledniki Zhabotinskogo? [So Who Are the Heirs of Jabotinsky?]// "22": 
Obshchestvenno-politicheskiy i I iteraturniy zhurnal evreyskoy i ntel I i gents i i izSSSR v Izraile [Social, Pol itical and 
Literary Journal ofthe Jewish Intelligentsia from the USSR in Israel (henceforth - "22")]. Tel-Aviv, 1980,(16), p. 

[84] D. S. Pasmanik. Russkaya revol utsia i evreistvo: (Bolshevism i iudaizm) [Russian Revolution and Jewry: 
Bolshevism and Judaism]. Paris, 1923, p. 179-181. 

[85] Rech, August 16, 1917, p. 3. 

[86] V. Boguslavsky.VsachshituKunyaeva [In Defense of Kunyaev] // "22", 1980,(16), p. 169. 


[87] Lenin, 4th edition, v. 30, p. 231. 

[88] SJE, v.7, p. 381. 

[89] Kh. M. Astrakhan. Bolsheviki i ikh politicheskieprotivnikivl917godu [The Bolsheviks andTheir Political 
Adversaries in 1917]. Leningrad, 1973, p. 407. 

[90] Aron Abramovich. V reshayuchshey voine: Uchastie i rol evreev SSSR v voine protiv natsisma [In the 
Deciding War: Participation and Role of Jews in the USSR in the War Against Nazism] 2nd Edition, Tel Aviv, 1982, 
v. 1, p. 45, 46. 

[91] L. Trotsky. Istoriya russkoi revolutsii.T. 2: Oktyabrskaya revolutsia [TheHistoryof Russian Revolution]. 
Berlin, Granit, 1933, v. 2: October Revolution, Part2, p. 361. 


Chapter 16: During the Civil War 

Trotsky once boasted that during the Civil War, "even" traveling in his special 
Revvoyensovet's [Revolutionary Military Council] railroad coach, he was able to find time to 
acquaint himself with the latest works of French literature. 

Not that he realized exactly what he said. He acknowledged that he was able to find not just 
time, but room in his heart between appeals to the "revolutionary sailors," forcibly 
mobilized units of Red Army, and a thrown order to execute every tenth soldier in a unit that 
wavered in battle. Well, he usually did not stay around to supervise carrying out such orders. 

Orchestrating a bloody war on the vast plains of Russia, he was absolutely untouched by the 
unprecedented sufferings of her inhabitants, by her pain. He soared aloft, above it all, on the 
wings of the international intoxication of the Revolution. 

The February Revolution was a Russian revolution: no matter how headlong, erroneous and 
pernicious it was, it did not aspire to burn down the entire pre-existing life, to annihilate the 
whole pre-revolutionary Russia. Yet immediately after the October [Bolshevik revolution], 
the Revolution spilled abroad and became an international and devastating plague, feeding 
itself by devouring and destroying social order wherever it spread — everything built was to 
be annihilated; everything cultivated — to be confiscated; whoever resisted — to be shot. 
The Reds were exclusively preoccupied with their grand social experiment, predestined to be 
repeated, expanded and implemented all over the world. 

From an easy, quick blow, the October coup snowballed into a fierce three -year-long Civil 
War, which brought countless bloody calamities to all the peoples of Russia. 

The multinationality of the former Empire and the cannon recoil from the Great War 
complicated both the inhumane Bolshevik plot and its implementation. Unlike the French 
Revolution, which unfolded on the territory of mono-national France and did not see much 
foreign intervention apart from a short incursion of hostile troops, and with all its horrors 
being a national affairfrom beginning to end, the Russian Revolution was horribly 
aggravated by its multinational madness. It saw the strong participation of Red Latvians 
(then Russian subjects), former German and Austrian prisoners of war (organized into full- 
blown regiments like the Hungarians), and even large numbers of Chinese. No doubt the 
brunt of the fighting for the Reds was carried out by Russians; some of them were drafted on 
pain of death while others volunteered in a mad belief they would be fighting for a happy 
future for themselves. Yet the Russian Jews were not lost in all that diversity. 

The politically active part of Russian Jewry, which backed the Bolshevik civic regime in 1917, 
now just as boldly stepped into the military structures of Bolsheviks. During the first years 
after the October Revolution in the midst of the internationalist frenzy, the power over this 
enormous land was effortlessly slipping into the hands of those clinging to the Bolsheviks. 
And they were overwhelmed by the newfound immensity of that power. They immediately 
began using it without a backward glance or any fear of control — some, without doubt, in 
the name of higher ideals, while others — in the name of lower ones ("obstinacy of 
fanaticism in some and ability to adapt in others" 1 ). At that time, nobody could imagine that 


the Civil War would ignite enormous Jewish pogroms, unprecedented in their atrocity and 
bloodshed, all over the South of Russia. 

We can judge the true nature of the multi-ethnic war from the Red pogrom during the 
suppression of the Kronstadt Uprising in March 1921. A well-known socialist-revolutionary 
and sociologist Pitrim Sorokin writes: "For three days, Latvian, Bashkir, Hungarian, Tatar, 
Russian, Jewish and international rabble, crazed by alcohol and the smell of blood, raped and 
killed without restraint." 2 

Or here is another recollection from ordinary witnesses. During the feast of the Epiphany in 
1918, an Orthodox Sacred Procession stirred forth from the gates of the Kremlin inTula - 
and an "international squad" gunned it down. 

Even with the ruthless international squads, the force of the "Red Guard" alone was no 
longer sufficient. The Bolshevik regime needed a regular army. In 1918, "Lev Trotsky, with 
the help of Sklyansky and JacovSverdlov, created the Red Army." "Many Jews were fighting 
in its ranks. Some units were entirely Jewish, like, for example, the brigade of Josef 
Furman." 3 The Jewish share in the command corps the Red Army become large and 
influential and this trend continued for many years even after the end of the Civil War. This 
Jewish involvement has been researched by several Jewish authors and encyclopedias. 

In the 1980s, Israeli scholarAaron Abramovich used many Soviet sources (including The Fifty- 
Year Anniversary of the Soviet Armed Forces, The Soviet Historical Encyclopedia, volumes of 
Directives of the Front Command of the Red Army) to compile detailed nominal rosters of 
highly ranked Jewish commanders (exclusivelyJewish ones) in the Red Army during the 
period from the Civil War up to the aftermath of Second World War. 

Let's skim through the pages allocated to the Civil War. 4 This is a very extensive roster; it 
begins with the Revvoyensoviet, where Abramovich lists L. Trotsky, E. Sklyansky, A. 
Rosengoltz, and Y. Drabkin-Gusev. Trotsky ordered the "establishment of fronts with 
headquarters, and formation of new armies," and "Jews were present in almost all the 
revvoyensoviets of the fronts and armies." (Abramovich lists the most prominent individuals: 
D. Vayman, E. Pyatnitsky, L. Glezarov, L. Pechyorsky, I. Slavin, M. Lisovsky, G. Bitker, Bela Kun, 
Brilliant-Sokolnikov, I. Khodorovsky). Earlier, at the onset of the Civil War, the Extraordinary 
Command Staff of the Petrograd Military District was headed by Uritsky, and among the 
members of the Petrograd Committee of Revolutionary Defense were Sverdlov (the 
chairman), Volodarsky, Drabkin-Gusev, Ya. Fishman (a leftist Socialist Revolutionary) and G. 
Chudnovsky. In May 1918 there were two Jews among the eleven commissars of military 
districts: E. Yaroslavsky-Gubelman (Moscow District) and S. Nakhimson (Yaroslavsky District). 
During the war, several Jews were in charge of armies: M. Lashevich was in charge of the 3 rd 
— and later, of the 7 th Army of Eastern Front; V. Lazarevich was in charge of the 3 rd Army of 
the Western Front, G. Sokolnikov led the 8 th Army of the Southern Front, N. Sorkin -the 9 th , 
and I. Yakir- the 14 th Army. Abramovich painstakingly lists numerous Jewish heads of staff 
and members of the revvoyensoviets in each of the twenty armies; then the commanders, 
heads of staff and military commissars of divisions (the list of the latter, i.e., those in charge 
of the ideological branch of command, was three-times longer than the list of Jewish 
commanders of divisions). In this manner Abramovich describes brigades, regiments and 
separate detachments. He lists Jewish heads of political administrations and revolutionary 


military tribunals at all levels, noting that "especially large percentage of Jews can be found 
among political officers at all levels of the Red Army...." "Jews played an important role in 
the provision and supply services. Let's name some of them...." "Jews occupied important 
positions in military medicine as well: heads of sanitary administrations of the fronts and 
armies, senior doctors of units and bodies of troops...." "Many Jews — commanders of large 
units and detachments — were distinguished for their courage, heroism and generalship" 
but "due to the synoptic character of this chapter we cannot provide detailed descriptions of 
the accomplishments of Jewish Red Army soldiers, commanders and political officers." 
(Meticulously listing the commanders of armies, the researcher misses another Jew, Tikhon 
Khvesin, who happened to be in charge of the 4 th Army of the Eastern Front, then — of the 
8 th Army of the Southern Front, and later of the 1 st Army of the Turkestan Front. 5 ) 

The Russian Jewish Encyclopedia provides additional information about some commanders. 
(Here I would like to commend this encyclopedia (1994), for in our new free times its authors 
performed an honest choice — writing frankly about everything, including less than 
honorable things.) 

Drabkin-Gusev became the Head of Political Administration of the Red Army and the Chief of 
the entire Red Army in 1921. Later he was the head of IstPart (Commission on the History of 
October Revolution and Bolshevist Party) and a big figure in the Comintern, a nd was buried 
in the Kremlin wall [in Moscow]. 

Mikhail Gaskovich-Lashkevich was a member of many revvoyensoviets, and later he was in 
charge of the Siberian Military District, and even later — the First Deputy Chairman of the 
Revvoyensoviet of the USSR (yet he was buried merely on the Field of Mars [in St. 

Israel Razgonwasthe military commissar of the Headquarters of Petrograd Military District 
and participated in the suppression of the Kronstadt Uprising; later, he was in charge of the 
Red Army of Bukhara, suppressing the uprising in Central Asia; still later he worked in the 
Headquarters of the Black See Fleet. 

Boris Goldberg was Military Commissar of the Tomskaya Guberniya, later of the Permskaya 
Guberniya, still laterof the Privolzhskiy Military District, and even later he was in charge of 
the Reserve Army and was acknowledged as one of the founders of Soviet Civil Aviation. 

Modest Rubenstein was Deputy Head of the Revvoyensoviet of the Special Army, and later 
he was head of political administration of an army group. 

Boris Hippo was the Head of Political Administration of the Black Sea Fleet. (Later he worked 
in the political administrations of the Baltic Sea Fleet, the Turkestan Front, was the Head of 
Political Administration of the Central-Asian Military District, and later of the Caucasian 

Michail Landa was a head of the political division of an army, later — Deputy Head of 
Political Administration of the entire Red Army, and still later Head of Political 
Administration of the Byelorussian and then of the Siberian Military Districts. 


Lev Berlin was Commissar of the Volga Military Flotilla and laterworked in the Political 
Administration of the Crimean Army and still later in that of the Baltic Fleet. 5 

Yet how many outstanding characters acted at lower levels? 

Boris Skundin, previously a lowly apprentice of clockmaker Sverdlov, Sr., successively 
evolved into the military commissar of a division, commissar of army headquarters, political 
inspector of front, and, finally, into Deputy Head of Political Administration of the 1 st Cavalry 

Avenir Khanukaev was commander of a guerilla band who laterwas tried before the 
revolutionary tribunal for crimes during the capture of Ashgabatand acquitted, and in the 
same year of 1919 was made into political plenipotentiary of the TurkCommission of the All- 
Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviet of People's Commissars on Kashgar, 
Bukhara and Khiva. 

Moses Vinnitsky ("Mishka-Yaponchik") was a member of the Jewish militia squad in Odessa 
1905, and later a gang-leader; he was freed from a hard labor camp by the February 
Revolution and became a commander of a Jewish fighting brigade in Odessa, simultaneously 
managing the entire criminal underworld of Odessa. In 1919 he was a commander of a 
special battalion and later he was in charge of an infantry regiment in the Red Army. His unit 
was "composed of anarchists and criminals." In the end he was shot by his own side. 

Military commissar Isaiah Tzalkovich was in command of a composite company of the [Red] 
cadets during the suppression of the Kronstadt Uprising. 7 

We can see extraordinary Jewish women in the higher Bolshevik ranks as well. 

Nadezda Ostrovskaya rose from the Head of Gubkom [Party Committee of a Guberniya, the 
highest executive authority in a guberniya] of Vladimir Guberniya to the post of the Head of 
Political Administration of the entire 10 th Army. 

Revekka Plastinina headed Gubrevkom and later the Gubkom of Archangel Guberniya. 

Is it proper to mention here Cecilia Zelikson-Bobrovskaya, who was a seamstress in her 
youth, and became the Head of the Military Department of the Moscow Committee of the 
Ail-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks? 8 Or take one of the Furies of the Revolution 
Eugenia Bosh (or her sister Elena Rozmirovich)? 

Or another thing — the Soviets used the phrase "Corps of Red Cossacks." Yet those were not 
Cossacks who embraced communist ideology but plain bandits (who occasionally disguised 
themselves as Whites for deception). Those "Cossack Corps" were made of all nationalities 
from Romanians to Chinese with a full-blown Latvian cavalry regiment. A Russian, Vitaly 
Primakov, was in command and its Political Department was headed by I.I. Minz (by Isaac 
Greenberg in the Second Division) and S. Turovskiy was head of the Headquarters. A. 
Shilman was the head of operative section of the staff, S. Davidson managed the division 
newspaper, and Ya.Rubinov was in charge of the administrative section of the staff. 9 


Since we began particularizing let's look at the famous leaders of the Red Army, at those 
never-fading names: Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko, Vasily Blucher, Semyon Budyonny, Klim 
Voroshilov, Boris Dumenko, Pavel Dybenko, Aleksa Dundich, Dmitry Zhloba, Vasily Kikvidze, 
Epifan Kovtukh, G ri gory Koto vsky, Philip Mi ronov, Mikhail Muravyov, Vita ly Primakov, Ivan 
Sorokin, Semyon Timoshenko, Mikhail Tukhachevsky, leronim Uborevich, Mikhail Frunze, 
Vasily Chapaev, Yefim Shchadenko, Nikolay Shchors. Why, couldn't they pull it off without 

Ortake hundreds and thousands of Russian generals and officers of the former Imperial 
Army, who served in the Red Army, though not in the political sections (they were not 
invited there), but in other significant posts. True, they had a commissar with a gun behind 
them, and many served on pain of execution of their hostage families especially in case of 
military failures. Yet they gave an invaluable advantage to the Reds, which actually might 
have been crucial for the eventual victory of Bolsheviks. Why, "just about half of the officers 
of the General Staff worked for the Bolsheviks." 10 

And we should not forget that initial and fatal susceptibility of many Russian peasants (by no 
means all of them, of course) to Bolshevik propaganda. Shulgin flatly noted: "Death to the 
Bourgeois" was so successful in Russia because the smell of blood inebriates, alas, so many 
Russians; and they get into a frenzy like wild beasts." 11 

Yet let's avoid going into another unreasonable extreme, such as the following: "The most 
zealous executioners in Cheka were not at all the 'notorious Jews,' but the recent minions of 
the throne, generals and officers." 12 As though they would be tolerated in there, in the 
Cheka ! They were invited there with the only one purpose — to be executed. Yet why such a 
quick-temper? Those Jews, who worked in the Cheka, were, of course, not the "notorious 
Jews," but quite young and "committed" ones, with revolutionary garbage filling their heads. 
And I deem that they served not as executioners but mostly as interrogators. 

The Cheka ("Extraordinary Commission," Che-Ka) was established in December 1917. It 
instantly gained strength and by the beginning of 1918 it was already filling the entire 
populace with mortal fear. In fact, it was the Cheka that started the "Red Terror" long before 
its beginning was officially announced on September 5, 1918. The Cheka practiced terror 
from the moment of its inception and continued it long after the end of the Civil War. By 
January of 1918, the Cheka was "enforcing the death penalty on the spot without 
investigation and trial." Then the country saw the snatching of hundreds and later thousands 
of absolutely innocent hostages, their mass executions at night or mass drowning in whole 
barges. Historian S. P. Melgunov, who himself happened to experience perilous incarceration 
in Cheka prisons, unforgettably reflected upon the whole epic story of the "Red Terror" in his 
famous book "Red Terror" in Russia 1918-1923. 

"There was not a single town or a district without an office of the omnipotent Ail-Russian 
Extraordinary Commission [that is, the Cheka], which from now on becomes the main nerve 
of state governance and absorbs the last vestiges of law"; "there was not a single place (in 
the RSFSR [Russian Federation]) without ongoing executions"; "a single verbal order of one 
man (Dzerzhinsky) doomed to immediate death many thousand people." And even when 
investigation took place, the Chekists [members of the Cheka] followed their official 
instructions: "Do not look for evidence incriminating a suspect in hostile speech or action 


against Soviet power. The very first question you should ask him is about the social class he 
belongs to, and what is his descent, upbringing, education and profession. It is these 
questions that should determine the suspect's fate (the words of M. Latsis in the bulletin Red 
Terror on November 1, 1918 and in Pravda on December 25, 1918)." Melgunov notes: "Latsis 
was not original here, he simply rephrased the words of Robespierre in Convent about the 
mass terror: 'To execute the enemies of the Fatherland, it is sufficient to establish their 
identities. Not punishment but elimination is required'." Directives from the center are 
picked up and distributed all over Russia by the Cheka Weekly and Melgunov cites the 
periodical profusely: "Red Sword is published in Kiev ... in an editorial by Lev Krainy we read: 
'Old foundations of morality and humanity invented by the bourgeoisie do not and cannot 
exist for us'.... A. certain Schwartz follows: 'The proclaimed Red Terror should be 
implemented in a proletarian way... If physical extermination of all servants of Tsarism and 
capitalism is the prerequisite for the establishment of the worldwide dictatorship of 
proletariat, then it wouldn't stop us.'" 13 

It was a targeted, pre-designed and long-term Terror. Melgunov also provides estimates of 
the body count of that "unheard-of swing of murders" (precise numbers were practically not 
available then). "Yet, I suppose these horrors ... pale into insignificance with respect to the 
number of victims if compared to what happened in the South after the end of the Civil War. 
Denikin's [the general of the White army in command of the South Russian front] rule was 
crumbling. New power was ascending, accompanied by a bloody reign of vengeful terror, of 
mere retaliation. At this point it was not a civil war, it was physical liquidation of a former 
adversary." There were waves and waves of raids, searches, new raids and arrests. "Entire 
wards of prisoners are escorted out and every last man is executed. Because of the large 
number of victims, a machine-gun is used"; "they execute 15-16-years-old children and 60- 
years-old elders." The following is a quote from a Cheka announcement in the Kuban region: 
"Cossack villages and settlements, which give shelter to Whites and Greens [Ukrainian 
nationalists], will be destroyed, the entire adult population — executed, and all property — 
confiscated." After Wrangel [another White general] left, "Crimea was dubbed the 'All- 
Russian Cemetery'" (different estimates suggest the number of murdered as between 
120,000 and 150,000). "In Sevastopol people were not just shot but hanged, hanged by 
dozens and even by hundreds," Nakhimov Prospect [a major street] was lined with the 
corpses of the hanged ... people arrested on the streets and hastily executed without trial." 
Terror in the Crimea continued through 1921. 14 

But no matter how deep we dig into the history of Cheka, special departments, special 
squads, too many deeds and names will remain unknown, covered by the decomposed 
remnants of witnesses and the ash of incinerated Bolshevik documents. Yet even the 
remaining documents are overly eloquent. Here is a copy of a secret "Extract from the 
protocol of a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the All -Russian 
Communist Party of Bolsheviks" dated by April 18, 1919, obtained from the Trotsky archive 
at Columbia University. 

"Attended cc. [comrades] Lenin, Krestinsky, Stalin, Trotsky. 

Heard: ...3. Statement of c. Trotsky that Jews and Latvians constitute a huge percentage of 
officials in the front-line Chekas, front-line and rear area executive commissions and central 


Soviet agencies, and that their percentage in the front-line troops is relatively small, and that 
because of this, strong chauvinist agitation is conducted among the Red Army soldiers with 
certain success, and that, according to c. Trotsky's opinion, it is necessary to redistribute the 
Party personnel to achieve a more uniform representation of officials of all nationalities 
between front-line and rear areas. 

Decided: To propose cc. Trotsky and Smilga to draft an appropriate Directive of the Central 
Committee to the commissions responsible for the allotment of cadres between the central 
and local Soviet organizations and the front." 15 

Yet it is hard to believe that the meeting produced the intended effect. A contemporary 
researcher, the first who approached "the problem of the role and place of Jews (and other 
ethnic minorities) in Soviet machinery," studied declassified archive documents and 
concluded that "at the initial stage of activity of the punitive agencies, during the 'Red 
Terror,' national minorities constituted approximately 50% of the central Cheka apparatus, 
with their representation on the major posts reaching 70%." 16 The author provides 
September 25, 1918 statistical data: among the ethnic minorities — numerous Latvians and 
fairly numerous Poles "- the Jews are quite noticeable, especially among "major and active 
Cheka officials," i.e., commissars and investigators. For instance, among the "investigators of 
the Department of Counter-Revolutionary Activities - the most important Cheka 
department - half were Jews." 17 

Below are the service records of several Chekists of the very first call (from the Russian 
Jewish Encyclopedia). 18 

Veniamin Gerson was in the Cheka from 1918, and from 1920 he was a personal referent to 

Israel Leplevsky, a former member of Bund, joined the Bolsheviks in 1917 and worked in the 
Cheka from 1918; he was the head of the State Political Directorate [formed from the Cheka 
in 1922] of the Podolsk Guberniya and laterof the Special Department of Odessa. And he 
climbed all the way up to the post of head of the OGPU [Joint State Political Directorate, the 
successorto the Cheka] of USSR! Later he occupied posts of Narkom of Internal Affairs of 
Byelorussia and Uzbekistan. 

Zinovy Katznelson became a Chekist immediately after the October Revolution; later he was 
a head of special departments in several armies, and then of the entire Southern Front. Still 
later we can see him in the highest ranks in the Cheka headquarters, and even later at 
different times he was in charge of the Cheka of the Archangel Guberniya, the 
Transcaucasian Cheka, the North Caucasus GPU, the Kharkov GPU [another Cheka -successor 
secret police organization]; he also was deputy to the Narkom of Internal Affairs of Ukraine 
and deputy head of the entire GULag [that is, the government agency that administered the 
main Soviet penal labor camp systems]. 

Solomon Mogilevsky was chair of the Ivano-Voznesensk tribunal in 1917, then in charge of 
Cheka in Saratov. Later we find him again in an army tribunal; and after that he was in 
succession: deputy head of the Bureau of Investigations of the Moscow Cheka, head of 
Foreign Affairs Department of Cheka headquarters, and head of the Cheka of Transcaucasia . 


Did Ignaty Vizner contemplate the scale of his actions when he investigated the case of 
Nicolay Gumilev? Not likely- he was too busy. He served in the Special Section at the 
Presidium of Cheka headquarters, he was the founder of the Bryansk Cheka, and later he 
was an investigator in the case of the Kronstadt Uprising and a special plenipotentiary of the 
Presidium of the Cheka-GPU on cases of special importance. 

Lev Levin-Velsky, former member of the Bund [a Jewish socialist labor organization], was in 
charge of the Cheka of the Simbirsk Guberniya in 1918-1919, later of the Special Department 
of the 8 th Army, still later of the Cheka of the Astrakhan Guberniya. Beginning in 1921, he 
was an envoy plenipotentiary of the central Cheka in the Far East, and later, from 1923, an 
envoy plenipotentiary of the OGPU in Central Asia. Still later, from the beginning of 1930, he 
worked in the Moscow OGPU. (And even later in his career he was deputy Narkom of 
Internal Affairs of the USSR.) 

Or consider Nahum (Leonid) Etington: active in the Cheka beginning in 1919, later head of 
the Cheka of the Smolensk Guberniya; still later he worked in the GPU of Bashkiria; it was he 
who orchestrated the assassination of Trotsky. 

Isaak(Semyon) Schwartz: in 1918-1919 he was the very first chair of the All-Ukranian Cheka. 
He was succeeded by Yakov Lifshitz who beginning in 1919 was the head of the Secret 
Operations Division and simultaneously a deputy head of the Cheka of the Kiev Guberniya; 
later he was deputy head of the Cheka of the Chernigov Guberniya, and still later — of the 
Kharkov Guberniya; and even later he was in charge of the Operative Headquarters of the 
All-Ukrainian Cheka; still later, in 1921-1922, he ran the Cheka of the Kiev Guberniya. 

Let's look at the famous Matvei Berman. He began his career in a districtCheka in the North 
Urals; in 1919 he was assigned as deputy dead of the Cheka of the Yekaterinburg Guberniya, 
from 1920 - head of Cheka of Tomsk Guberniya, from 1923 - of the Buryat-Mongolian 
Guberniya, from 1924- Deputy Head of the OGPU of all of Central Asia, from 1928 - head of 
the OGPU of Vladivostok, from 1932 - head of the entire GULag and simultaneously a 
deputy Narkom of the NKVD [a successor organization to the Cheka, GPU and OGPU] (from 
1936). (His brother Boris was in the State Intelligence Organs since 1920; in 1936 he served 
as deputy head of foreign intelligence section in the NKVD.) Boris Pozern, a commissarof the 
Petrograd Commune, substantially contributed to matching images of a Jew and that of a 
Chekistin people's minds; on September 2, 1918, he co-signed the proclamation on "Red 
Terror" with Zinoviev and Dzerzhinsky. (The Encyclopedia missed one Aleksandr loselevich, 
secretary of the Petrograd Cheka, who had co-signed the Red Terror execution lists with 
Gleb Bokiy in September, 1918.) 

Yet there were others, even more famous individuals. For instance, Yakov Agranov, a Chekist, 
phenomenally successful in conducting repressions; he invented "Tagantzev's Conspiracy" 
(through which he had killed Gumilev); he directed "cruel interrogations of participants of 
the Kronstadt Uprising." Or take notorious Yakov Blumkin, who participated in the 
assassination of the German ambassador in 1918; he was arrested and later amnestied, and 
then served in Trotsky's secretariat, and later -in Mongolia, Transcaucasia, the Middle East, 
and was shot in 1929. 


And there were numerous personnel behind every Cheka organizer.... And hundreds and 
thousands of innocents met them during interrogations, in basements and during the 

There were Jews among the victims too. Those who suffered from the massive communist 
onslaught on the "bourgeoisie" were mostly merchants. "In the Maloarkhangelsk District, a 
merchant (Yushkevich) was placed on a red-hot cast-iron stove by members of a communist 
squad for failure to pay taxes." (From the same source: some peasants, who defaulted on 
the surplus appropriation system, were lowered on ropes into water wells to simulate 
drowning; or, during the winter, they froze people into ice pillars for failure to pay 
revolutionary taxes. The particular sort of punishment depended on the imagination of the 
executioners. 19 ) Similarly, Korolenko described how two millers, named Aronov and Mirkin, 
were extrajudicially shot for not complying with absurd communist-mandated prices on 
flour. 20 Or here is another example. In 1913, former Kiev Governor Sukovkin advocated 
innocence of Beilis [during Beilis' Trial]. When the Reds came, he was arrested. Thousands of 
Jews in Kiev signed a petition on his behalf, yet the Cheka had shot him nevertheless. 

How then can we explain that the Russian populace generally regarded the new terror as 
"Jewish terror"? Look how many innocent Jews were accused of that. Why was the 
perception that Chekists and Jews were all but the same so widespread among both the 
Reds and the Whites alike and among the people in general? Who is responsible for that? 
Many. And the White Army is also responsible as we discuss below. Yet not the least among 
these reasons is because of the Chekists themselves, who facilitated this identification by 
their ardent service on the highest posts in Cheka. 

Today we hear bitter complaints that it was not only Jews who clung to the power, and why 
any particular clemency should be expected from the Jewish Chekists? True. These 
objections, however, cannot alterthe harsh certitude: the incredibly enormous power on an 
unimaginable scale had come into the hands of those Jewish Chekists, who at that time were 
supreme, by status and rank, representatives of Russian Jewry (no matter how horribly it 
sounds). And those representatives (again, not elected by their own people) were not 
capable of finding enough self-restraint and self-scrutinizing sobriety to come around, check 
themselves, and opt out. It is like the Russian cautionary proverb: "Ah, do not hurry to grab, 
first blow on your fingers" And the Jewish people (who did not elect those Chekists as their 
representatives), that already numerous and active city-dwelling community (weren't there 
prudent elders among them?) also failed to stop them: be careful, we area small minority in 
this country! (Yet who listened to elders in that age?) 

G. Landau writes: "Loss of affiliation with a social class overthrew the fine structure of Jewish 
society and destroyed the inner forces of resistance and even that of stability, sending even 
them under the chariot of triumphant Bolshevism." He finds that apart from the ideas of 
socialism, separatist nationalism, and permanent revolution, "we were astonished to find 
among the Jews what we never expected from them — cruelty, sadism, unbridled violence 
— everything that seemed so alien to a people so detached from physical activity; those who 
yesterday couldn't handle a rifle, today were among the vicious cutthroats." 21 

Here is more about the aforementioned Revekka Plastinina-Maizel from the Archangel 
Guberniya Cheka: "Infamous for her cruelty all over the north of Russia..., [she] voluntarily 


'perforated napes and foreheads'... and personally shot more than one hundred men." Or 
"about one Baka who was nicknamed 'a bloody boy' for his youth and cruelty" — first "in 
Tomsk and then as the head of the Cheka" of the Irkutsk Guberniya. 22 (Plastinina's career 
carried her up right to a seat in the Supreme Court of RSFSR which she occupied in 1940s. 23 ) 
Some may recall the punitive squad of Mandelbaum in Archangel in the north of Russia, 
others — the squad of "Mishka-Yaponchik" in Ukraine.... 

What would you expect from peasants in the Tambov Guberniya if, during the heat of the 
suppression of the great peasant uprising in this Central-Russian black-earth region, the 
dismal den of the Tambov Gubcom was inhabited by masterminds of grain allotments, 
secretaries of Gubcom P. Raividand Pinson and by the head of the propaganda department, 
Eidman? (A. G. Shlikhter, whom we remember from Kiev in 1905, was there as well, this time 
as the chairman of the Executive Committee of the guberniya.) Y. Goldin was the Foodstuffs 
Commissar of the Tambov Guberniya; it was he who triggered the uprising by exorbitant 
confiscations of grain, whereas one N. Margolin, commander of a grain confiscation squad, 
was famous for whipping the peasants who failed to provide grain. (And he murdered them 
too.) According to Kakurin, who was the chief of staff to Tukhachevsky, a plenipotentiary 
representative of the Cheka headquarters in the Tambov Guberniya during that period was 
Lev Levin. Of course, not only Jews were in it! However, when Moscow took the suppression 
of the uprising into her own hands in February 1921, the supreme command of the 
operation was assigned to Efraim Sklyansky, the head of "Interdepartmental Anti-Banditry 
Commission," — and so the peasants, notified about that with leaflets, were able to draw 
their own conclusions. 

And what should we say about the genocide on the river Don, when hundreds of thousands 
of the flower of Don Cossacks were murdered? What should we expect from the Cossack 
memories when we take into consideration all those unsettled accounts between a 
revolutionary Jew and a Don Cossack? 

In August 1919, the Volunteer Army took Kiev and opened several Chekas and found the 
bodies of those recently executed; Shulgin composed nominal lists of victims using funeral 
announcements published in the reopened Kievlyanin; one can't help noticing that almost all 
names were Slavic... it was the "chosen Russians" who were shot. Materials produced by the 
Special Investigative Commission in the South of Russia provide insights into the Kiev Cheka 
and its command personnel (based on the testimony of a captured Cheka interrogator) 25 : 
"The headcount of the 'Cheka' staff varied between 150 and 300 ... percentage -wise, there 
was 75% Jews and 25% others, and those in charge were almost exclusively Jews." Out of 
twenty members of the Commission, i.e., the top brass who determined people's destinies, 
fourteen were Jews. "All detained were kept either in the 'Cheka' building or in the 
Lukyanov's prison.... A special shed was fitted for executions in the building on Institutskaya 
St. 40, on the corner with Levashovskaya St., where the main 'Cheka' office of the guberniya 
had moved from Ekaterininskaya St. An executioner (and sometimes 'amateur' Chekists) 
escorted a completely naked victim into a shed and ordered the victim to fall facedown on 
the ground. Then he finished the victim with a shot in the back of the head. Executions were 
performed using revolvers (typically Colts). Usually because of the short distance, the skull of 
the executed person exploded into fragments.... The next victim was similarly escorted inside 
and laid down nearby.... When number of victims was exceeding ... the capacity of the shed, 


new victims were laid down right upon the dead or were shot at the entrance of the shed.... 
Usually the victims went to their execution without resistance." 

This is what the "people were whispering about." Ortake another incident, witnessed by 
Remizov (whom it is hard to suspect of anti-Semitism given his revolutionary-democratic 
past): "Recently there was a military training nearby, at the Academy, and one Red Army 
soldier said: 'Comrades, lets not go to the front, it is all because of Yids that we fight!' And 
someone with a brief-case asked him: 'Which regiment are you from?' And the soldier again: 
'Comrades, let's not goto the front, it is all because of Yids!' And that one with a briefcase 
ordered: 'Shoot him!' Then two other Red Army soldiers came out and the first one tried to 
flee. But he didn't make it to the corner as others got him and shot him - his brain spilled 
over and there was a pool of blood." 26 

The Kronstadt Uprising had distinctly anti-Jewish character (and so all the more was it 
doomed): they destroyed portraits of Trotsky and Zinoviev [both Jewish], but not those of 
Lenin. And Zinoviev didn't have guts to goto negotiate with the rebels - he would be torn 
into pieces. So they sent Kalinin [Russian]. 

There were labor strikes in Moscow in February 1921 that had the slogan: "Down with 
Communists and Jews!" 

We have already mentioned that during the Civil War the majority of Russian socialists (and 
there were numerous Jews among them) were, of course, on Lenin's side, not on Admiral 
Kolchak's and some of them actually fought for the Bolsheviks. (For example, consider Bund 
member Solomon Schwartz: during the period of the provisional government, he was a 
director of a department in a ministry; during the Civil War he volunteered to the Red Army 
though he did not indicate his rank; later he emigrated abroad where he published two 
books about the Jewish situation in the USSR; we will cite him below.) 

Thus it looked as though not only Bolshevik Jews, but all of Jewry had decided to take the 
Red side in the Civil War. Could we claim that their choice was completely deliberate? No. 
Could we claim that they didn't have any other choice? Again, no. 

Shulgin describes the enormous exodus from Kiev on October 1, 1919 as the city was to be 
surrendered to Bolsheviks. It was an entirely Russian exodus, people were leaving on foot 
with knapsacks, across the bridges over Dnepr river; he estimated their numbers at around 
60,000. "There were no Jews in this exodus: they were not noticeable among those many 
thousands of Russians (men, women and children), with bundles in their hands streaming 
across the beautiful Chain Bridge under a sorrowful net of rain." There were more than 
100,000 Jews in Kiev at that time, Shulgin writes. And all of those rich and very rich Jews — 
they didn't leave, they chose to stay and wait for arrival of Bolsheviks. "The Jews decided not 
to share their fate with us. And with that they carved a new and possibly the deepest divide 
between us." 27 

So it was in many other places. According to the testimony of socialist-revolutionary S. 
Maslov: "It is a fact that in towns and cities of southern Russia, especially in cities to the west 
of the Dnepr that changed hands repeatedly, the arrival of Soviets was most celebrated and 


the most of hollow sympathy was expressed in the Jewish quarters, and not infrequently 
only in those alone." 28 

A contemporary American historian (Bruce Lincoln, author of a big treatise about our Civil 
War) "said that the entire Ukrainian Cheka was composed of almost 80% by Jews," that "can 
be explained by the fact that, prior to arrival of the Reds, cruel pogroms went on non-stop; 
indeed those were the bloodiest pogroms since the times of Bogdan Khmelnytsky [leader of 
the Cossack rebellion in Ukraine in 1648-1657]. " 29 We will discuss the pogroms soon, though 
it should be noted that the time sequence was actually the opposite: those 80% [Jews] were 
already staffing the Cheka in 1918, whereas the Petliura's [a Ukrainian publicist, writer, 
journalist who was head of state during the Ukrainian independence of 1918-1920] pogroms 
only gathered momentum during 1919 (the pogroms by White Army troops began in the fall 
of 1919). 

Yet it is impossible to answer the eternal question who is the guilty party, who pushed it into 
abyss. Of course, it is incorrect to say that the Kiev Cheka did what it did because it was 
three-quarters Jewish. Still, this is something that Jewish people should remember and 
reflect upon. 

And yes, there were Jews then who appealed to their compatriots looking back on the 
tragedy that had befallen both Russia and Russian Jewry. In their proclamation To the Jews 
of all countries!, this group wrote in 1923 that "overly zealous participation of Jewish 
Bolsheviks in the oppression and destruction of Russia ... is blamed upon all of us ... the 
Soviet rule is identified with Jewish rule, and fierce hatred of Bolsheviks turns into the 
equally fierce hatred of Jews.... [We] firmly believe that Bolshevism is the worst of all evils 
possible for the Jews and all other peoples of Russia, and that to fight tooth and nail against 
the rule of that international rabble over Russia is oursacred duty before humankind, 
culture, before our Motherland and the Jewish people." 30 Yet the Jewish community 
"reacted to these declarations with great indignation." 31 (We will discuss it in the next 


The Civil Warspilled over Russia's borders. Let's review that briefly (though the events in 
Europe are outside of the scope of this book). 

The Bolsheviks invaded Poland in 1920. (At this point they had recalled and adroitly used the 
Russian "national longing and national enthusiasm" — as Nahamkis-Steklov put it in an 
Izvestia editorial. 32 ) And it appears that Polish Jews met the Red Army very warmly. 
According to a Soviet source, whole battalions of Jewish workers participated in the fighting 
at Minsk. 33 Reading from the Jewish Encyclopedia: "on numerous occasions, Poles accused 
Jews of supporting the enemy, of 'anti-Polish', 'pro-Bolshevist' and even 'pro-Ukrainian' 
attitudes." During the Soviet-Polish war many Jews "were killed [by Polish Army] on charges 
of spying for the Red Army." 34 However, we should be wary of possible exaggerations here 
as we remember similaraccusations in espionage made by Russian military authorities 
during the war, in 1915. 


The Soviets quickly formed a revolutionary "government" for Poland headed by F. 
Dzerzhinsky. In it were Y. Markhlevsky and F. Kon. Of course, they were surrounded by 
"blood work" specialists and ardent propagandists. (Among the latter we see a former 
pharmacist from Mogilev A. I. Rotenberg. Soon after the aborted Red revolution in Poland, 
he, together with Bela Kun and Zalkind-Zemlyachka, went on to conduct the deadly 
"cleansing" of the Crimea. In 1921 he participated in that glorious work again - this time 
"purging" Georgia, again under the direct command of Dzerzhinsky. At the end of 1920s 
Rotenberg was in charge of the Moscow NKVD.) 

Not only Poland but Hungary and Germany as well were affected by the Red Revolution. An 
American researcher writes: "the intensity and tenacity of anti-Semitic prejudice in both the 
east and the center of Europe was significantly influenced by Jewish participation in the 
revolutionary movement." "Inthe beginning of 1919, the Soviets, under predominantly 
Jewish leadership, started revolutions in Berlin and Munich," and "the share of activist Jews 
was" disproportionately high in the German Communist Party of that period," though "that 
party's support inthe Jewish community at large was not significant." Four out of eleven 
members of the Central Committee were Jews with a university education." In December 
1918, one of them, Rosa Luxemburg, wrote: "In the name of the greatest aspirations of 
humankind, our motto when we deal with our enemies is: "Finger into the eye, knee on the 
chest!" Rebellion in Munich was led by a theater critic, Kurt Eisner, a Jew of "bohemian 
appearance." He was killed, but the power in conservative and Catholic Bavaria was seized 
by "a new government made up of leftist intellectual Jews, who proclaimed the 'Bavarian 
Soviet Republic'"(G. Landauer, E. Toller, E. Muhsam, O. Neurath) In a week the republic "was 
overthrown by an even more radical group," which declared the "Second Bavarian Soviet 
Republic" with Eugen Levine at the helm. 35 Let's read an article about him in the 
Encyclopedia: born into merchant Jewish family, he used to be a socialist-revolutionary; he 
participated in the [Russian] revolution of 1905, later became German national, joined the 
"Spartacist movement" of R. Luxemburg and K. Liebknecht, and now he became the head of 
the Communist government in Bavaria, which also included the above mentioned E. Muhsam, 
E. Toller and a native of Russia, M. Levin. 36 The uprising was defeated in May 1919. "The fact 
that the leaders of the suppressed Communist revolts were Jews was one of the most 
important reasons for the resurrection of political anti-Semitism in contemporary 
Germany." 37 

"While Jews played a "quite conspicuous" role in the Russian and German communist 
revolutions, their role in Hungary became central.... Out of 49 People's Commissars there, 31 
were Jews," Bela Kun being the most prominent of them; "the foreign minister (de-facto 
head of government)," he would orchestrate a bloodbath in the Crimea half a year later. 
Here we find Matyas Rakosi,TiborSzamuely, Gyorgy Lukacs. "Granted, the prime-minister 
was a gentile, Sandor Garbai, but Rakosi later joked that Garbai was elected because 
someone had to sign execution orders on Sabbath days." "Statues of Hungarian kings and 
heroes were knocked off their pedestals, the national anthem outlawed, and wearing the 
national colors criminalized." "The tragedy of the situation was escalated by the fact that 
historically Hungarian Jews were much wealthier than their Eastern-European countrymen 
and were much more successful in Hungarian society." 38 


The direct relation between the Hungarian Soviet Republic and our Civil War becomes more 
clear by the virtue of the fact that special Red Army Corps were being prepared to go to the 
rescue of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, but they couldn't manage it in time and the 
Republic fell (in August 1919). 


The breakdown of the universally hated Russian Empire cost all involved dearly, including 
the Jews. G. Landau writes: "In general, revolution is gruesome, risky and dangerous 
business. It is especially gruesome and dangerous for a minority, which in many ways is alien 
to the bulk of population.... To secure their wellbeing, such minority should unwaveringly 
cling to law and rely on unshakable continuity of social order and on the inertia of statutory 
power. Forces of revolutionary misalignment and permissiveness hit such a minority 
particularly hard." 39 

It was looming — straightforward, into the so promising future! Yet in the near future, 
during the Civil War, there was no law and Jewry was hit by pillages and pogroms on the 
scale not even close to anything they experienced in days of the Tsar. And those pogroms 
were launched not by the White side. Because of the density of the Jewish population in 
Ukraine, it was inevitable that a third force, apart from the Reds and Whites, would interfere 
in the Jewish destinies — that of Ukrainian separatism. 

In April 1917, when the Ukrainian Rada [upper house of parliament] assembled for the first 
time, "Jewry ... did not yet believe in the victory of Ukrainian Nationalism," and that was 
manifested in the character of their voting during municipal summer elections: Jews did not 
have "any reason" to vote for Ukrainian separatists. 40 But already in June, when something 
resembling real independent Ukrainian governance was taking shape — under which 
apparently the Jews would have to live from now on — the Jewish representatives entered 
the Lesser [lower] Rada, and a Vice-Secretariat on Jewish nationality ("Jewish Ministry") was 
established. The latter worked on the long-cherished project of "Jewish National Autonomy" 
(according to which every nationality and now - the Jewish one, creates its own national 
union, which can legislate according to the needs and interests of their nation and for that it 
receives financial support from the treasury, and a representative of the union becomes a 
member of the cabinet). Initially, the formative Ukrainian government was generally 
benevolent toward Jews, but by the end of 1917 the mood changed, and the bill on 
autonomy was met in the Rada with laughter and contempt; nevertheless, in January 1918, 
it was passed, though with difficulties. For their part, the Jews reluctantly accepted "the 
Third Universal" (November 9, 1917, the initiation of Ukrainian independence from Russia) 
as now they feared anarchy, traditionally dangerous for Jewish populations, and were afraid 
of a splitwithin Russian Jewry. Still, Jewish philistines were making fun of the Ukrainian 
language and shop-signs, were afraid of Ukrainian nationalism, and believed in the Russian 
state and Russian culture. 41 Lenin wrote: Jews, like Great Russians, "ignore the significance 
of the national question in Ukraine." 42 

However, everything pointed toward secession and the Jewish delegates in the Rada did not 
dare to vote against the Fourth Universal (January 11, 1918, on complete secession of 
Ukraine). Immediately thereafter, the Bolsheviks began an offensive against Ukraine. The 
first "Ukrainian" Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party of Bolsheviks was 


formed in Moscow and later moved to Kharkov; it was headed by Georgiy Pyatakov and 
among its members were Semyon Schwartz and Serafima Gopner. When by the end of 
January 1918 they moved to Kiev, Grigory Chudnovsky took the post of the Commissar of 
Kiev, Kreitzberg became a commissarof finances, D. Raikhstein" press commissar, Shapiro 
— commissar of the army. "There was no shortage of Jewish names among the top 
Bolsheviks ... in such centers as Odessa and Ekaterinoslav. That was sufficient to fuel talks 
about "Bolshevik Jews" and "Jewish Bolsheviks" among the troops loyal to the Rada. Verbal 
cursing about "traitorous Jews" became almost commonplace"; "in the very midst of street 
fighting [for Kiev], the Zionist fraction produced an official inquiry on the matter of anti- 
Jewish excesses." The question turned into a "verbal skirmish between Ukrainian delegates 
and representatives of national minorities." 43 

Thus enmity split apart the Jews and the Ukrainian separatists. 

"The Ukrainian government and the leaders of Ukrainian parties were evacuated to Zhitomir, 
but the Jewish representatives did not follow them," they remained under the Bolsheviks. 
And in addition, the Bolsheviks in Kiev were "supported by a sizable group of Jewish workers, 
who returned from England after the [February, Kerensky] revolution" and who now wholly 
siding with the Soviet regime ... took up the posts of commissars and ... officials," and 
created a "special Jewish squad of Red Guards." 44 

Yet soon after the conclusion of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk [in which the Soviets ceded 
Ukraine to the Central Powers] as the government of independent Ukraine returned to Kiev 
under the aegis of Austrian and German bayonets in the beginning of February of 1918, the 
"haidamakas" [spontaneous, popular uprisings against Polish rule that took place in Ukraine 
in the 18th century] and "free Cossacks" began snatching and shooting any former "Jewish 
commissars," they could find. Yet those were not actual Jewish pogroms, and very soon 
Petliura's government was replaced by the Hetman government of [Cossack leader] 
Skoropadsky for the next seven months. "The command of the units of the German Army 
that had occupied Kiev in the spring, treated the needs of Jewish population with 
understanding." (And that population was not-insubstantial: in 1919, 21% of Kiev's 
inhabitants were Jewish. 45 ) AJewish Kadet [a member of Russian Constitutional Democrat 
Party] Sergei Gutnik became the Minister of Trade and Industry in the Hetman 
government. 46 Under the Hetmanate, Zionists acted without hindrance, and an independent 
Jewish Provisional National Assembly and a Jewish National Secretariat were elected. 

Yet Hetmanate fell and in December 1918 Kiev came under the control of the Directorate of 
Ukraine led by Petliura and Vynnychenko. The Bund and Poale-Zion [a movement of Marxist 
Jewish workers] did their best to help their fellow socialists of the Directorate and Jewish 
Secretariat and also made conciliatory moves. But Petliura saw it differently. His mouthpiece, 
the newspaper Vidrodzhennya wrote: "The birth of the Ukrainian State was not expected by 
the Jews. The Jews did not anticipate it despite having an extraordinary ability of getting the 
wind of any news. They ... emphasize their knowledge of Russian language and ignore the 
fact of Ukrainian statehood ... Jewry again has joined the side of our enemy." 47 Jews were 
blamed for all the Bolshevikvictories in Ukraine. In Kiev, the Sich Riflemen plundered 
apartments of wealthy people which in masse came over to the capital while the military 
and atamans [originally Cossack commanders, then used by the Ukrainian National Army] 


robbed smallertowns and shtetls. That year, a regiment named after Petliura inaugurated 
mass pogroms by pillaging the town of Sarny. 

A Jewish deputy from the Lesser Rada attempted toward off the growing tendency toward 
pogroms among Petliura's troops: "We need to warn Ukrainians that you cannot found your 
state on anti-Semitism. Leaders of the Directorate should remember that they are dealing 
with the world's people, which outlived many of its enemies" and threatened to start a 
struggle against such government. 48 Jewish parties quickly began to radicalize toward the 
Left, thus inevitably turning their sympathies to Bolshevism. 

Arnold Margolin, then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said that the situation 
in Ukraine was reminiscent of the worst times of Khmelnytsky and Gonta [Cossack leader 
against Polish occupation of Ukraine]. 49 D. Pasmanik bitterly noted that Zionists and Jewish 
nationalists supported the Directorate's government for a while even when a nti -Jewish 
pogroms raged across Ukraine 50 : "How could Jewish socialists forget about the pogromist 
attitudes of Petliura and other heroes of the Ukrainian Revolution".. How could they forget 
about the Jewish blood shed by the descendants and disciples of Khmelnytsky, Gonta and 
Zalizniak"" 51 Between December 1918 and August 1919, Petliura's troops carried out dozens 
of pogroms, killing, according to the Commission of International Red Cross, around 50,000 
Jews. The largest pogrom happened on February 15, 1919, in Proskurov after a failed 
Bolshevik coup attempt. 52 "Jewish pogroms that went on non-stop from the very moment of 
Ukrainian independence became particularly ferocious during the period of the so-called 
Directorate and kept going until the Ukrainian armed forces existed." 53 

S. Maslov writes: "True, in the Tsar's times Jews were killed during pogroms but they have 
never had been killed in such numbers as now and with such callous indifference"; 
"sometimes during anti-Jewish pogroms by rebellious peasant bands the entire shtetls were 
exterminated with indiscriminate slaughter of children, women and elders." 54 After the 
pogromists finished with their business, peasants from surrounding villages usually arrived 
on wagons to join in looting commercial goods often stored in large amounts in the towns 
because of the unsettled times. 55 "All over Ukraine rebels attacked passengertrains and 
often commanded 'communists and Jews to get out' of the coach and those who did were 
shot right on the spot"; or, checking papers of passengers, "suspected Jews were ordered to 
pronounce 'kukuruza' [corn]) and those who spoke with an accent were escorted out and 
executed." 56 

American scholar Muller thinks that "the mass extermination of Jews in Ukraine and 
Byelorussia during the Civil Warwas by no means a result of articulated policy but rather a 
common peasant reaction." 57 

Independent rebellious bands of Grigoriev, Zelyony, Sokolovsky, Struk, Angel, Tyutyunik, 
Yatzeiko, Volynetz and Kozyr-Zirka were particularly uncontrolled and because of this acted 
with extreme atrocity. However, Nestor Makhno was different. 

The raging Civil War provided fertile soil for the self-realization of Makhno's criminal and 
rebellious personality. We are not going to recount his villainous and clinically-mad deeds in 
this work, yet it should be noted that he did not harbor anti-Jewish attitudes and that his 
anarchist-communist followers loudly proclaimed their "implacable hostility toward any 


form of anti-Semitism." At different times, a certain Aaron Baron was his Chief of Staff, Lev 
Zadov-Zenkovsky was his head of counter-intelligence, Volin-Eikhenbaum was head of 
Makhno's agitprop, Arshinov was his close adviser, and one Kogan headed Administration of 
Huliaipole [his "capital"]. There was even a 300-strong separate Jewish company among his 
troops, led by Taranovsky, and though atone point they betrayed Makhno, nevetheless 
Taranovsky was later pardoned and even made the Makhno's Chief of Staff . "The Jewish 
poor joined Makhno's army in masses" and allegedly Makhno trapped and executed ataman 
Grigorievfor the latter's anti-Semitism. In March 1919 Makhno executed peasants from 
Uspenovka village fora pogrom in the Jewish agricultural colony Gorkoye. However, despite 
his indisputable pro-Jewish stance (later in emigration in Paris "he was always in a Jewish 
milieu" until his death), his often uncontrollable troops carried out several Jewish pogroms, 
for instance, in 1918 near Ekaterinoslav 58 or in the summer of 1919 in Aleksandrovsk, though 
Makhno and his officers rigorously protected Jewish populations and punished pogromists 
with death." 59 

To examine the anti-Jewish pogroms during the Russian Civil War, we consult a large volume 
Jewish Pogroms: 1918-1921 compiled by Jewish Public Committee for Aid to Victims of 
Pogroms in 1923 and published later in 1926. 60 (The year of publication explains why we find 
nothing about pogroms by the Reds — the book "aims to examine the roles of Petliura's 
troops, the Volunteer [White] Army, and Poles in the carnage of pogroms in the described 

Regulartroops participated in pogroms in larger cities and towns as they marched, whereas 
independent bands acted in the hinterlands, thus effectively denying the Jews safety 

Pogroms by Petliura's troops were particularly atrocious and systematic and sometimes even 
without looting, such as, for example, pogroms inProskurov, Felsztyn andZhytomir in 
February of 1919, Ovruch in March, Trostyanets, Uman and Novomirgorod in May 1919. The 
worst pogroms by bands were in Smila (March 1919), Elisavetgrad, Radomyshl, Vapniarka 
and Slovechno in May 1919, in Dubovka (June 1919); by Denikin's troops - in Fastov 
(September 1919) and Kiev (October 1919). In Byelorussia, there were pogroms by Polish 
troops, for example, in Borisov and in the Bobruisk District, and by Polish-supported troops 
of Bulak-Balachowicz in Mazyr, Turov, Petrakov, Kapatkevitchy, Kovchitsy and Gorodyatitchy 
(in 1919, 1920, and 1921). 

Ukrainian Jewry was horrified by the murderous wave of pogroms. During brief periods of 
respite, the Jewish population fled en masse from already pillaged or threatened places. 
There was indeed a mass exodus of Jews from shtetls and small towns into larger cities 
nearby or toward the border with Romania in a foolish hope to find aid there, or they simply 
"aimlesslyfled in panic" as they did from Tetiivand Radomyshl. "The most populous and 
flourishing communities were turned into deserts. Jewish towns and shtetls looked like 
gloomy cemeteries — homes burnt and streets dead and desolated. Several Jewish 
townships were completely wrecked and turned into ashes — Volodarka, Boguslav, 
Borshchagovka, Znamenka, Fastov, Tefiapol, Kutuzovka and other places." 61 



Let us now examine the White side. At first glance it may appear counter-intuitive that Jews 
did not support the anti-Bolshevik movement. After all, the White forces were substantially 
more pro-democratic then Bolsheviks (as it was with [White generals] Denikin and Wrangel) 
and included not only monarchists and all kinds of nationalists but also many liberal groups 
and all varieties of anti-Bolshevik socialists. So why didn't we see Jews who shared the same 
political views and sympathies there? 

Fateful events irredeemably separated the Jews from the White movement. 

The Jewish Encyclopedia informs us that "initially many Jews of Rostov supported the White 
movement. On December 13, 1917 a merchant prince, A. Alperin, gave 800,000 rubles 
collected by the Jews of Rostov to A. Kaledin, the leader of Don Cossacks, 'to organize anti- 
BolshevikCossacktroops.'" 62 Yet when General Alekseev [another White commander] was 
mustering his first squadron in December 1917 in the same city of Rostov and needed funds 
and asked (note — asked and did not impress) the Rostov-Nakhichevan bourgeoisie (mainly 
Jewish and Armenian) for money, they refused and he collected just a dab of money and was 
forced to march out into the winter with unequipped troops - into his Ice March. And later 
"all appeals by the Volunteer Army were mostly ignored, yet whenever the Bolsheviks 
showed up and demanded money and valuables, the population obediently handed over 
millions of rubles and whole stores of goods." 63 When former Russian prime minister (of the 
Provisional Government) prince G. E. Lvov, begging for aid abroad, visited New York and 
Washington in 1918, he met a delegation of American Jews who heard him out but offered 
no aid. 64 

However, Pasmanik quotes a letter saying that by the end of 1918 "more than three and half 
millions rubles ... were being collected in the exclusive Jewish circle" with accompanying 
"promises and reassurances" of goodwill toward Jews from the White authorities. Despite 
that, Jews were officially prohibited to buy land in the Chernomorskaya Guberniya because 
of "vicious speculations by several Jews," though the order was revoked soon afterwards. 65 

Here is another example from my own sources: again in Rostov in February 1918 when the 
White movement was merely nascent and seemed almost hopeless, an elderly Jewish 
engineer and manufacturer A. I. Arkhangorodsky, who sincerely considered himself a Russian 
patriot, literally pushed his reluctant student son into joining the White youth marching out 
into the night [February 22], embarking on their Ice March (however, his sisterdidn't let him 
go). The Jewish Encyclopedia also tells us that the "Jews of Rostov were joining Cossack 
guerilla squadrons and the student's battalion of [White] general L. Kornilov's army." 66 

In Paris in 1975, Col. Levitin, the last surviving commander of the Kornilov Regiment, told me 
that quite a few Jewish warrant officers, who were commissioned in Kerensky's times, were 
loyal to Kornilov during the so-called "days of Kornilov" in August 1917. He recalled one 
Katzman, a holder of the Order of St. George from the First Kutepov Division. 

Yet we know that many Whites rejected sympathetic or neutral Jews — because of the 
prominent involvement of other Jews on the Red side, mistrust and anger was bred among 
the White forces. A modern study suggests that "during the first year of its existence, the 
White movement was virtually free of anti-Semitism at least in terms of major incidents and 
Jews were actually serving in the Volunteer Army. However ...the situation dramatically 


changed by 1919. First, after the Allied victory [in WWI], the widespread conviction among 
the Whites that Germans helped Bolsheviks was displaced by a mythos about Jews being the 
backbone of Bolshevism. On the other hand, after the White troops occupied Ukraine, they 
came under influence of obsessive local anti-Semitism that facilitated their espousal of anti- 
Jewish actions." 67 

The White Army "was hypnotized by Trotsky and Nakhamkis [an agent of the Bolshevik 
Central Committee] and that caused the identification of Bolshevism with Jewry and led to 
pogroms." 68 The Whites perceived Russia as occupied by Jewish commissars - and they 
marched to liberate her. And given considerable unaccountability of separate units of that 
nascent and poorly organized army strewn over the vast Russian territories and the general 
lack of central authority in that war, it is not surprising that, unfortunately, some White 
troops carried out pogroms. "A. I. Denikin like some other leaders of the South Army (e.g., 
V. Z. Mai-Mayevsky), endorsed Kadet [the Constitutional Democratic Party] and Socialist 
Revolutionary views and sought to stop the outrages perpetrated by his troops. Yet those 
efforts were not effective." 69 

Naturally, many Jews were driven by survival instinct and even if they initially expected 
goodwill on the part of the Volunteer Army, after pogroms by Denikin's troops they lost any 
inclination to support the White movement. 

Pasmanik provides a lively case. "Aleksandrovsk was taken by the Volunteers from the 
Bolsheviks. They were met by unanimous sincere joy of the citizenry.... Overnight half of the 
town was sacked and filled by the screaming and moaning of distressed Jews.... Wives were 
raped ... men beaten and murdered, Jewish homes were totally ransacked. The pogrom 
continued for three days and three nights. Post-executive Cossack cornet Sliva dismissed 
complaints of the Public Administration saying 'it is always like that: we ta ke a city and it 
belongs to the troops for three days.'" 70 It is impossible to explain all this plunder and 
violence by soldiers of the Volunteer Army by actions of Jewish commissars. 

A top White general, A. von Lampe, claims that rumors about Jewish pogroms by the Whites 
are "tendentiously exaggerated", that these pillaging "requisitions" were unavoidable 
actions of an army without quartermaster services or regular supplies from the rear areas. 
He says that Jews were not targeted deliberately but that all citizens suffered and that Jews 
"suffered more" because they were "numerous and rich." "I am absolutely confident that in 
the operational theaters of the White armies there were no Jewish pogroms, i.e., no 
organized extermination and pillaging of Jews. There were robberies and even murders ... 
which were purposefully overblown and misrepresented as a nti -Jewish pogroms by special 
press.... Because of these accidents, the Second Kuban Infantry Brigade and the Ossetian 
Cavalry Regiment were disbanded.... All the people, be they Christian or Jewish, suffered in 
disorderly areas." 71 There were executions (on tip offs by locals) of those unfortunate 
commissars and Chekists who did not manage to escape and there were quite a few Jews 
among them. 

Events in Fastov in September 1919 appea r differently. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, 
Cossacks "behaved outrageously ... they killed, raped and flouted Jewish religious feelings 
(they had broken into a synagogue during Yom Kippur, beat up the whole congregation, 
raped the women and tore apart the Torah scrolls.) About one thousand were killed." 72 A 


methodical quarter-by-quarter pillaging of Jews in Kiev after a brief return of the White 
troops in the end of October 1919 was dubbed the "quiet pogrom." Shulgin writes: "The 
commanders strictly prohibited 'pogroms.' Yetthe "Yids" were really an annoyance and, 
secondly, the 'heroes' were hungry.... In general, the Volunteers in large cities were starving." 
There were nights of plunder but without murder and rape. It was "the end of Denikin's 
period ... and the beginning of the agony of the Volunteer Army." 73 

"By the route of its offensive and, particularly, its retreat," during its last brutal retreat in 
November-December of 1919, the White Army carried out "a large number of Jewish 
pogroms" (acknowledged by Denikin), apparently not only for plunder but also for revenge. 
However, Bikerman says that "murders, pillage and rape of women were not faithful 
companions of the White Army, unlike what is claimed by our [Jewish] National Socialists 
who exaggerate the horrible events to advance their own agenda." 74 

Shulgin agrees: "For a true White, a massacre of unarmed civilians, the murder of women 
and children, and robbing someone's property are absolutely impossible things to do." Thus, 
the "true Whites" in this case are guilty of negligence. They were not sufficiently rigorous in 
checking the scum adhering to the White movement." 75 

Pasmanik concurred that "everybody understands that General Denikin did not want 
pogroms but when I was in Novorossiysk and Ekaterinodar in April-May 1919, i.e., before the 
march to the north, I could sense a thickened and pervasive atmosphere of anti-Semitism 
everywhere." 76 Whatever it was — negligence or revenge — it served well to ignite the 
"White" pogroms of 1919. 

Still, "by unanimous testimony of those unlucky enough to experience both types of 
pogroms [those by Petliura's troops and those by White Army], it was predominantly 
Petliura's troops who went for Jewish life and soul — they did the most killing." 77 

"It was not the Volunteer Army that initiated Jewish pogroms in the new Russia. They began 
in the "reborn" Poland the day after she become a free and independent state. While in 
Russia itself they were started by the Ukrainian troops of the Democrat Petliura a nd the 
Socialist Vynnychenko.... The Ukrainians turned pogroms into an everyday event." 78 . 

The Volunteer Army did not start the pogroms but it carried on with them, being fueled by a 
false conviction that a// Jews were for Bolsheviks. "The name of L. Trotsky was particularly 
hated among the Whites and Petliura's soldiers and almost every pogrom went under a 
slogan 'This is what you get for Trotsky.'" And even "the Kadets who in the past always 
denounced any expression of anti-Semitism, and all the more so the pogroms ...during their 
November 1919 conference in Kharkov ... demanded that Jews 'declare relentless war 
against those elements of Jewry who actively participate in the Bolshevist movement.'" At 
the same time the Kadets "emphasized ... that the White authorities do everything possible 
to stop pogroms," namely that since the beginning of October 1919 "the leadership of the 
[Volunteer] Army began punishing pogromists with many measures including execution" and 
as a result "pogroms stopped for a while." Yet "during the December 1919-March 1920 
retreat of the Volunteer Army from Ukraine the pogroms become particularly violent" and 
the Jews were accused "of shooting the retreating Whites in the back." (Importantly, "there 


were no pogroms in Siberia by A. Kolchak's troops," as "Kolchak did not tolerate 
pogroms." 79 ) 

D.O. Linsky, himself a former White Guard, emphatically writes: "Jewry was possibly given a 
unique chance to fight so hard for the Russian land, that the slanderous claim, that for Jews 
Russia is just geography and not Fatherland, would disappear once and for all." Actually, 
"there was and is no alternative: the victory of anti-Bolshevik forces will lead from suffering 
to revival of the whole country and of the Jewish people in particular.... Jewry should devote 
itself to the Russian Cause entirely, to sacrifice their lives and wealth.... Through the dark 
stains on the White chasubles one should perceive the pure soul of the White Movement.... 
In an army where many Jewish youths were enlisted, in an army relying on extensive 
material support from Jewish population, anti-Semitism would suffocate and any pogromist 
movement would be countered and checked by internal forces. Jewry should have 
supported the Russian Army which went on in an immortal struggle for the Russian land.... 
Jewry was pushed from the Russian Cause, yet Jewry had to push away the pushers." He 
writes all this "after having painful personal experience of participation in the White 
movement. Despite all those dark and serious problems that surfaced in the White 
movement, we delightfully and with great reverence bow our uncovered heads before this 
one and only commendable fact of the struggle against the ignominy of Russian history, the 
so-called Russian Revolution." It was "a great movement for the unfading values of 
[upholding] the human spirit." 80 

Yet the White Army did not support even those Jews who volunteered for service in it. What 
a humiliation people like doctor Pasmanik had to go through (many Jews were outraged 
after finding him "among the pogromists")! "The Volunteer Army persistently refused to 
accept Jewish petty officers and cadets, even those who in October 1917 bravely fought 
against Bolsheviks. It was a huge moral blow to Russian Jewry." "I will never forget," he 
writes, "how eleven Jewish petty officers came to me in Simferopol complaining that they 
were expelled from fighting units and posted as ... cooks in the rear." 81 

Shulgin writes: "If only as many Jews participated in the White Movement as did in the 
'revolutionary democracy' or in 'constitutional democracy' before that...." Yet only a tiny 
part of Jewry joined the White Guards ... only very few individuals, whose dedication could 
not be overvalued as the anti-Semitism [among the Whites] was already clearly obvious by 
that time. Meanwhile, there were many Jews among the Reds..., there, most importantly, 
they often occupied the 'top command positions'.... Aren't we really aware of the bitter 
tragedy of those few Jews who joined the Volunteer Army" The lives of those Jewish 
Volunteers were as endangered by the enemy's bullets as they were by the 'heroes of the 
rear' who tried to solve the Jewish question in their own manner." 82 

Yet it was not all about the "heroes of the rear." And anti-Semitic feelings had burst into 
flames among the young White officers from the intellectual families — despite all their 
education, tradition, and upbringing. 

And this all the more doomed the White Army to isolation and perdition. 

Linsky tells us that on the territories controlled by the Volunteer Army, the Jews we re not 
employable in the government services or in the OsvAg ("Information-Propaganda Agency," 


an intelligence and counter-intelligence agency, established in the White Army by General 
A.M. Dragomirov). Yet he refutes the claim that publications of OsvAg contained anti-Semitic 
propaganda and that pogromists were not punished. No, "the command did not want Jewish 
pogroms, yet ... it could not act against the pogromist attitudes of their troops ... it 
psychologically couldn't use severe measures.... The army was not as it used to be, and 
requirements of the regular wartime or peacetime military charters could not be fully 
applied to it," as the minds of all soldiers were already battle-scarred by the Civil War. 83 
"Although they didn't want pogroms, Denikin's government didn't dare to denounce anti- 
Semitic propaganda loudly," despite the fact that the pogroms inflicted great harm on 
Denikin's army. Pasmanik concludes: the Volunteer Army "generally assumed a hostile 
attitude toward the entire Russian Jewry." 84 But I. Levin disagrees, saying that "the views of 
only one part of the movement, those of the active pogromists, are now attributed to the 
whole movement," while in reality "the White Movement was quite complex, it was 
composed of different factions ... with often opposite views." 85 Yet to bet on Bolsheviks, to 
walk in their shadows because of fear of pogroms, is ...obvious and evident madness.... A 
Jew says: either the Bolsheviks or the pogroms, whereas he should have been saying: the 
longer the Bolsheviks hold power, the closer we are to certain death." 86 Yet the "Judeo- 
Communists" were, in the parlance of the Whites, agitators as well. 

All this was resolutely stopped by Wrangel in Crimea, where there was nothing like what was 
described above. (Wrangel even personally ordered Rev. Vladimir Vostokov to stop his public 
anti-Jewish sermons.) 

In July 1920, Shulim Bezpalov, the aforementioned Jewish millionaire, wrote from Paris to 
Wrangel in the Crimea: "We must save our Motherland. She will be saved by the children of 
the soil and industrialists. We must give away 75% of our revenue until the value of ruble has 
recovered and normal life rebuilt." 87 

Yet it was already too late.... 

Still, a part of the Jewish population of the Crimea chose to evacuate with Wrangel's army. 88 

True, the White Movement was in desperate need of the support by the Western public 
opinion, which in turn largely depended on the fate of Russian Jewry. It needed that support, 
yet, as we saw, it had fatally and unavoidably developed a hostility toward the Jews and later 
it was not able to prevent pogroms. As Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill "was 
the major advocate of the Allied intervention in Russia and military aid to the White armies." 
Because of the pogroms, Churchill appealed directly to Denikin: "my goal of securing the 
support in the Parliament for the Russian national movement will be incomparably more 
difficult," if the pogroms are not stopped. "Churchill also feared the reaction of powerful 
Jewish circles among the British elite." 89 Jewish circles in the USA held similaropinions [on 
the situation in Russia]. 

However, the pogroms were not stopped, which largely explains the extremely weak and 
reluctant assistance given by the Western powers to the White armies. And calculations by 
Wall Street naturally led it to support Bolsheviks as the more likely future rulers over Russia's 
riches. Moreover, the climate in the US and Europe was permeated by sympathy toward 


those who claimed to be builders of a New World, with their grandiose plans and great social 

And yet, the behavior of the former Entente of Western nations during the entire Civil War is 
striking by its greed and blind indifference toward the White Movement — the successor of 
their wartime ally, Imperial Russia. They even demanded that the Whites join the Bolshevik 
delegation at the Versailles Peace Conference; then there was that delirious idea of peace 
negotiations with the Bolsheviks on the Princes' Islands. The Entente, which did not 
recognize any of the White governments officially, was hastily recognizing all those new 
national states emerging on the periphery of Russia — thus unambiguously betraying the 
desire for its dismemberment. The British hurried to occupy the oil-rich region of Baku; the 
Japanese claimed parts of the Far East and the Kamchatka Peninsula. The American troops in 
Siberia were more of hindrance than a help and actually facilitated the capture of Primorye 
by the Bolsheviks. The Allies even extorted payments for any aid they provided — in gold 
from Kolchak; in the South of Russia, in the form of Black Sea vessels, concessions and future 
obligations. (There were truly shameful episodes: when the British were leaving the 
Archangel region in the Russian north, they took with them some of the Tsar's military 
equipment and ammunition. They gave some of what they couldn't take to the Reds and 
sunk the rest in the sea — to prevent it from getting into the hands of the Whites!) In the 
spring of 1920, the Entente put forward an ultimatum to the White Generals Denikin and 
Wrangel demanding an end to their struggle against the Bolsheviks. (In the summer of 1920 
France provided some material aid to Wrangel so that he could help Poland. Yet only six 
months later they were parsimoniously deducting Wrangel's military equipment as payment 
for feeding of those Russian soldiers who retreated to Gallipoli.) 

We can judge about the actions of the few occupational forces actually sent by the Entente 
from a testimonial by Prince Grigory Trubetskoy, a serious diplomat, who observed the 
French Army during its occupation of Odessa in 1919: "French policies in the South of Russia 
in general and their treatment of issues of Russian statehood in particular were strikingly 
confused, revealing their gross misunderstanding of the situation." 90 

* * * 

The black streak of Jewish pogroms in Ukraine ran through the whole of 1919 and the 
beginning of 1920. By their scope, scale and atrocity, these pogroms immeasurably exceeded 
all the previous historical instances discussed in this book — the pogroms of 1881-1882, 
1903, and 1905. Yu. Larin, a high-placed Soviet functionary, wrote in the 1920s that during 
the Civil War Ukraine saw "a very large number of massive Jewish pogroms far exceeding 
anything from the past with respect to the number of victims and number of perpetrators." 
Vynnychenko allegedly said that "the pogroms would stop only when the Jews would stop 
being communists." 91 

There is no precise estimate of the number of victims of those pogroms. Of course, no 
reliable count could be performed in that situation, neither during the events, nor 
immediately afterwards. In the book, Jewish Pogroms, we read: "The number of murdered in 
Ukraine and Byelorussia between 1917 and 1921 is approximately 180,000-200,000.... The 
number of orphans alone, 300,000, bespeaks of the enormous scale of the catastrophe." 92 


The present-day Jewish Encyclopedia tells us that "by different estimates, from 70,000 to 
180,000-200,000 Jews were killed." 94 

Compiling data from different Jewish sources, a modern historian comes up with 900 mass 
pogroms, of which: 40% by Petliura's Ukrainian Directorate troops ; 25% by the squads of 
the various Ukrainian "atamans"; 17% by Denikin's White Army troops; and 8.5% by the First 
Cavalry Army of Budyonny and other Red Army troops. 95 

Yet how many butchered lives are behind these figures! 

Already during the Civil War, national and socialist Jewish parties began merging with the 
Reds. The "Fareynikte" [the United Jewish Socialist Worker's Party] turned into the 
"ComFareynikte" [Communist Jewish Socialist Worker's Party] and "adopted the communist 
program and together with the communist wing of the Bund formed the [All -Russian] 
"ComBund" inJune 1920; in Ukraine, associates and members of the Fareynikte together 
with the Ukrainian ComBund formed the "ComFarband" (the Jewish Communist Union) 
which later joined the Ail-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks. 96 In 1919 in Kiev, the 
official Soviet press provided texts in three languages — Russian, Ukrainian and Yiddish. 

"The Bolsheviks used these pogroms [in Ukraine] to their enormous advantage, they 
extremely skillfully exploited the pogroms in order to influence public opinion in Russia and 
abroad ... in many Jewish and non-Jewish circles in Europe and America." 97 

Yet the Reds had the finger in the pie as well — and they were actually first ones. "In the 
spring of 1918, units of the Red Army, retreating from Ukraine, perpetrated pogroms using 
the slogan 'Strike the Yids and the bourgeoisie "'; "the most atrocious pogroms were carried 
out by the First Cavalry Army during its retreat from Poland in the end of August 1920. " 98 Yet 
historical awareness of the pogroms carried out by the Red Army during the Civil War has 
been rather glossed over. Only a few condemning voices have spoken on the topic. Pasma nik 
wrote: "During the first winter of Bolshevik rule, the Red troops fighting under the red 
banner carried out several bloody pogroms, most notable of which were pogroms in Glukhov 
and Novgorod-Siverskiy. By number of victims, deliberate brutality, torture and abuse, those 
two had eclipsed even the Kalush massacre. Retreating before the advancing Germans, the 
Red troops were destroying Jewish settlements on their route." 99 

S. Maslov is also quite clear: "The march of the Budyonny's Cavalry Army during its 
relocation from the Polish to the Crimean Front was marked by thousands of murdered Jews, 
thousands of raped women and dozens of utterly razed and looted Jewish settlements.... In 
Zhytomyr, each new authority inaugurated its rule with a pogrom, and often repeatedly 
after each time the city changed hands again. The feature of all those pogroms — by 
Petliura's troops, the Poles, or the Soviets — was the large number of killed." 100 The 
Bogunskiy and Taraschanskiy regiments stood out in particular (though those two having 
came over to Budyonny from the Directorate); allegedly, those regiments were disarmed 
because of the pogroms and the instigators were hanged. 

The above-cited socialists. Schwartz concludes from his historical standpoint (1952): "During 
the revolutionary period, particularly during the Civil War, ...anti-Semitism has grown 


extraordinarily ... and, especially in the South, spread extensively in the broad masses of the 
urban and rural population." 101 

Alas, the resistance of the Russian population to the Bolsheviks (without which we wouldn't 
have a right to call ourselves a people) had faltered and took wrong turns in many ways, 
including on the Jewish issue. Meanwhile the Bolshevik regime was touting the Jews and 
they were joining it, and the Civil Warwas more and more broadening that chasm between 
Reds and Whites. 

"If the revolution in general has cleared Jewry of suspicion in counter-revolutionary attitude, 
the counter-revolution has suspected all Jewry of being pro-revolutionary." And thus, "the 
Civil War became an unbearable torment for Jewry, further consolidating them on the wrong 
revolutionary positions," and so "they failed to recognize the genuine redemptive essence of 
the White armies." 102 

Let's not overlook the general situation during the Civil War. "It was literally a chaos which 
released unbridled anarchy across Russia.... Anybody who wanted and was able to rob and 
kill was robbing and killing whoever he wanted.... Officers of the Russian Army were 
massacred in the hundreds and thousands by bands of mutinous rabble. Entire families of 
landowners were murdered estates ...were burned; valuable pieces of art were pilfered 
and destroyed ... in some places in manors all living things including livestockwere 
exterminated. Mob rule spread terror ... on the streets of cities. Owners of plants and 
factories were driven out of their enterprises and dwellings.... Tens of thousands people all 
over Russia were shot for the glory of the proletarian revolution others ... rotted in 
stinking and vermin-infested prisons as hostages.... It was not a crime or personal actions 
that put a man under the axe but his affiliation with a certain social stratum or class. It would 
be an absolute miracle if, under conditions when whole human groups were designated for 
extermination, the group named 'Jews' remained exempt.... The curse of the time was that 
... it was possible to declare an entire class ora tribe 'evil'.... So, condemning an entire social 
class to destruction ... is called revolution, yet to kill and rob Jews is called a pogrom? ... The 
Jewish pogrom in the South of Russia was a component of the Ail-Russian pogrom." 103 

Such was the woeful acquisition of all the peoples of Russia, including the Jews, after the 
successful attainment of equal rights, after the splendid Revolution of March, 1917, that 
both the general sympathy of Russian Jews toward the Bolsheviks and the developed 
attitude of the White forces toward Jews eclipsed and erased the most important benefit of 
a possible White victory — the sane evolution of the Russian state. 


1 T.A. /laHflay. PeBO^K)u,MOHHbie Mflen b eBpeMCKOM o6mecTBem-ioc™ // Poccma m eBpen: C6. 1 (fla^ee — PmE) / 
OTenecTBeHHoe o6-beflMHeHne pyccKMX eBpeeB 3a rpam-iu,eM. riapuHK: YMCA-Press, 1978, c. 117 [1-e M3fl. — 
BepyiMH: OcHOBa, 1924]. 

2 PitirimSorokin. Leaves from a Russian Diary. New York: E.F.Button & Co., 1925, p. 267. 

3 KpaTKaa EBpeficKaa 3HU,MKnoneflHfl (fla^ee — KE3). Mepyca^nwi: KeTep, 1976. T. 1, c. 686. 

4 ApoH A6paw\OBMH. B pewatomefi BOMHe: ynacTue m po^b eBpeeB CCCP b BOMHe npoTMB Hau,M3w\a. 2-e M3fl. 
Teyib-ABMB, 1982. T. 1, c. 45-61. 


5 PoccuMCKafl EBpeMCKaa 3HU,MK^oneflHfl (flayiee — PE3). 2-emp,., ncnp. Mflon. M., 1997. T. 3, c. 285. 

6 PE3, t. 1, c. 122, 340, 404, 515; t. 2, c. 120, 126, 434, 511. 
7PE3, t. 3, c. 61,278,305,503. 

8 PE3, t. 1, c. 144;t. 2, c. 354, 388-389. 

9 HepBOHHoe Ka3anecTBo: BocnowiMHaHna BeTepaHOB: [C6.] M.: BoeHM3flaT, 1969. 

10 B.B. LUy^brnH. «Hto Haw\ b hmx He HpaBMTca...»: 06 AHTMcew\MTM3Me b Poccmm [fla^ee — B.B. LUynbrMH]. 
napn>K, 1929, c. 145. 

11 Tawiwe, c. 157. 

12 B. Mmpckmm. HepHaa cotha // EBpeticKafl Tpn6yHa: EweHeflenbHMK, nocBameHHbiM MHTepecawi pyccKMX 
eBpeeB. IHapuHK, 1924, 1 4>, c. 3. 

13 C.n. Me^bryHOB. «KpacHbm Teppop» b Poccmm, 1918-1923. 2-e M3fl. flon. Bep^MH: BaTara, 1924, c. 43, 48, 
57, 70-71,72-73. 

14 Taw\ we, c. 50, 99, 100, 105, 109, 113. 

15 Col umbia University, New York, Trotsky's Archive, bMs Russ 13 T-160, «riapTMMHaa nepermcKa N° 9 3a 
1919 r.», c. 9. 

16 /l.KD. KpMHeBCKMM. EBpeM b annapaTe BHK-Omy b 20-e roflbi // EBpeM m pyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl: MaTepMa^bi m 
Mcc^eflOBaHMfl / Pefl.-cocT. O.B. ByflHMU,KMM. MocKBa; Mepyca^MM: TeiuapMM, 1999, c. 321, 344. 

17 /l.KD. KpMHeBCKMM. EBpeM b annapaTe BHK-OI~ny b 20-e roflbi // EBpeM m pyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl, c. 327-329. 

18 PE3, t. 1, c. 106, 124, 223, 288; t. 2, c. 22, 176, 302, 350, 393; t. 3, c. 374, 473. 

19 C.C. MocnoB. Poccmh nocne neTbipex ;ieT peBO^(ou,MM (flayiee C.C.MacnoB). riapMw: PyccKaa nenaTb, 1922. 
Kh. 2, c. 193. 

20 1X14. HerpeTOB. BJ. Kopo^eHKo: /leTonMCb >km3hm m TBopnecTBa, 1917-1921 / llofl pefl. A.B. Xpa6poBMU,Koro. 
MocKBa : KHMra, 1990, c. 151-154,232-236. 

21 T.A. /laHflay. PeBo^rou,MOHHbie MfleM b eBpeficKOM o6mecTBeHHOCTM // PmE, c. 117-118. 

22 C.C. MacnoB, c. 196. 

23 PE3, t. 2, c. 388-389. 

24 B.B. LUy^brMH, npM/io>KeHMfl, c. 313-318. 

25 HeKMCT o HK (143 apxMBa «Oco6om CneflCTB. Kommccmm Ha KDre Poccmm») // Ha ny>KOM CTopoHe: Mctopmko- 
^MTepaTypHbie c6ophmkm / riofl pefl. C.n.Me^bryHOBa. Bep^MH: BaTara; ripara: n^awia, 1925. T. 9, c. 111-141. 

26 A/ieKceM Pew\M30B. B3BMxpeHHaa Pycb. London: Overseas Publications, 1979,c. 376-377. 

27 B.B. LUyyibrMH, c. 95-96. 


28 C.C. Macncm, c. 44. 

29 M3^o>KeHMe 6eceflbi c E./lHHKcnbHOM cm.: B./lto6apcKMM. Hto fle^aTb, a He kto BMHOBaT // Bpewia m Mbi: 
Me>KflyHapoflHbiM >xypHa.n yii-iTepaTypbi m o6mecTBeHHbix npo6^ew\. Hbto-MopK, 1990, N2 109, c. 134. 

30 PmE, c. 6, 7. 

31 T.A. /laHflay. PeBcmou.i'ioHHbie Mflen b eBpeficKofi o6mecTBeHHOc™ // PmE, c. 100. 

32 KD. deK^OB. HapoflHaa o6opoHa — Hau.i-ioHa.nbHafl o6opoHa // M3BecTMfl, 1920, 18 Man, c. 1. 

33 KD. /lapMH. EBpen n a HTMceMMTH3M b CCCP. M.; J].: TM3, 1929, c. 31. 

34 KE3, t 6, c.646;t. 1, c. 326. 

35 fl>K. Mton/iep. flua^eKTMKa Tpareflnn: a HTMceMMTH3M m KOMW\yHM3M b L|eHTpa^bHOM m Boctohhom EBpone // 
"22": 06mecTBeHHO-noyiMTMHecKMM m ^MTepaTypHbiM >KypHa.n eBpeMCKOM MHTeyiyinreHL^nn M3 CCCP b 
Te/ib-ABMB, 1990, N2 73, c. 96, 99-100. 

36 KE3, t. 4, c. 733-734. 

37 fl>K. MKxn.nep. flua^eKTMKa Tpareflnn... // "22", 1990, N2 73, c. 99. 

38 Tawiwe, c. 100-101. 

39 T.A. /laHflay. PeBcmou.i'ioHHbie Mflen b eBpeMCKOM o6mecTBeHHOc™ // PmE, c. 115. 

40 HE. LLIexTMaH. EBpeficKaa o6mecTBeHHOCTb Ha YKpauHe (1917-1919) //KHura o pyccKOM eBpeficTBe*, 1917- 
1967(fla^ee — KPE-2). Hbio-MopK: Cokb PyccKnx EBpeeB, 1968, c. 22. 

41 TaMwe, c. 29, 30,35. 

42 B.I4. /leHMH. CoHMHeHMfl: B 45 t. 4-e M3fl. M.: rocno^MTM3flaT, 1941-1967. T. 30, c. 246. 

43 HE. LUexTMaH. EBpeficKaa o6mecTBeHHOCTb... //KPE-2, c. 33-34. 

44 HE. LUexTMa h. EBpeficKaa o6mecTBeHHOCTb... // KPE-2, c. 35-37. 

45 KE3, t. 4, c.256. 

46 PE3, t. 1, c.407. 

47 14. M. Tpou,KMM. EBpeMCKne norpowibi Ha YKpauHe m b Ee^opyccnn 1918-1920 rr.// KPE-2*, c. 59. 

48 TaM>xe, c. 62. 

49 TaMwe. 

50 fl.C. riacMa hmk. Hero >Ke Mbi flo6nBaeMCfl? // PmE, c. 211. 

51 14. M. EnKepwia h. Poccma m pyccKoe eBpeficTBO // PmE, c. 66-67. 

52 KE3, t. 6, c.570. 


53 M.M. BuKepwia h. Poccma m pyccKoe eBpeficTBO // PmE, c. 65. 

54 C.C. MocnoB, c. 25, 26. 

55 K). /lapuH. EBpen m a HTMceMMTH3M b CCCP, c. 40, 41. 

56 C.C. Macncm, c. 40. 

57 fl>K. Mion-nep. flua^eKTMKa Tpareflnn... // "22", 1990, N2 73, c. 97. 

58 B. /Imtbmhob. MaxHO n eBpen // "22", 1983, N2 28, c. 191-206. 

59 KE3, t. 6, c.574. 

60 EBpeMCKne norpowibi, 1918-1921/Coct. 3.C. Octpobckmm. M.: Aku,. o6-bo « m KHnra», 1926. 

61 EBpeMCKne norpowibi, 1918-1921, c. 73-74. 

62 KE3, t. 7, c, 403. 

63 fl.C. riacMa hmk. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl m eBpeficTBo: (EanbLiieBM3M m nyflan3w\). napn>K, 1923, c. 169. 
64T.M. Honnep. >Kn3HeHHbm nyTb Khr3r Teoprnfl EBreHneBuna /lbBOBa. riapn>K, 1932, c. 274. 

65 fl.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,na m eBpeficTBO, c. 176-177. 

66 KE3, t. 7, c.403. 

67 T.B. KocTbipneHKO. Taxman no^MTMKa CTa^MHa: B^acTbM a HTMceMMTH3M. M.: MewflyHapoflHbie OTHOiueHMfl, 
2001, c. 56-57. 

68 fl.C. riacMaHMK. Hero >xe Mbi flo6nBaew\cfl? // PmE, c. 216. 

69 T.B. KocTbipneHKO. Taxman no^MTMKa CTa^MHa,c. 56. 

70 fl.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,na m eBpeficTBO, c. 185. 

71 TeH. A. 4>oh /lawine. ripMHMHbi Heyflann Boopy>Ke - HHoro BbicTyn^eHMfl 6enbix // rioceB, 1981, N2 3, c. 38-39 
(nepenenaTKa M3: PyccKMM KoyioKon, 1929, N2 6-7). 

72 KE3, t. 6, c.572. 

73 B.B. LUyyibrMH, c. 97-98. 

74 M.M. BuKepwia h. Poccma m pyccKoe eBpeficTBO // PmE, c. 64. 

75 B.B. LUy^brMH. c. 86. 

76 fl.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl m eBpeMcmo, c. 186-187. 

77 fl.M. BuKepwiaH. Poccma m pyccKoe eBpeficTBO // PmE, c. 65-66. 

78 fl.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl m eBpeMCTBO, c. 173-174. 


79 KE3, t. 6, c. 572-574. 

80 fl.O. /Imhckmm. O Hau,MOHa^bHOMcaMoco3HaHMM pyccKoroeBpea // PmE, c. 149-151. 

81 fl.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl m eBpeMcmo, c. 183. 

82 B.B. LUyyibrMH, c. 55, 81, 82. 

83 fl.O. /Imhckmm. O Hau,MOHa^bHOMcaMoco3HaHMM pyccKoroeBpea // PmE, c. 157, 160-161. 

84 fl.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl m eBpeMcmo, c. 181, 187. 

85 14.0. /leBMH. EBpen b peB0^tou,MM // PmE, c. 136. 

86 14. M. EnKepwia h. Poccmh m pyccrae eBpeficTBO // PmE, c. 81,82. 

87 fl.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,na m eBpeficTBO, c. 181. 

88 KE3, t. 4, c.598. 

89 Michael J.Cohen. Churchill and the Jews. London; Totowa, NJ: Frank Cass, 1985, p. 56, 57. 

90 Kh. Tp. H. Tpy6eu,KOM. OnepK B3a MMOOTHOiueHMM BoopyweHHbix Cv\n KDra Poccmm m ripeflCTaBMTe^eM 
cDpaHU,y3CKoro KowiaHflOBaHMfl. EKaTepMHOflap, 1919 // Kh. Tp. H.Tpy6eu,KOM. Toflbi cwiyT m Haflewfl. MoHpea^b, 
1981, c. 202. 

91 KD. /lapuH. EBpen m a HTMceMMTH3M b CCCP, c. 38. 

92 EBpeMCKne norpowibi, 1918-1921, c. 74. 

93 Eoyibwafl CoBeTCKaa 3Huy\\u\onepy\n. 1-e M3fl. M., 1932. T. 24, c. 148. 

94 KE3, t. 6, c. 569. 

95 T.B. KocTbipneHKO. Taxman no^MTMKa Cra;iMHa,c. 56. 

96 14. E. LUexTMa h. CoBeTCKaa Poccma, CMOHM3M m I43pan^b// KPE-2, c. 321; KE3, t. 6, c. 85; t. 1, c. 560. 

97 14.0. /leBMH. EBpen b peBO^KDU,MM // PmE, c. 134. 

98 KE3, t. 6, 570,574. 

99 14. M. EnKepwiaH. Poccma m pyccKoe eBpeficTBO // PmE, c. 63. 

100 C.C. MacnoB, c. 26. 

101 CM. LUBapu,. AHTMce/v\MTM3M b CoBeTCKOM CoK)3e. HbK)-l4opK: I43fl-B0 mm. HexoBa, 1952, c. 14. 
102A.O. /Imhckmm. O Hau,MOHayibHOM caw\oco3HaHMM pyccKoro eBpea // PmE, c. 147, 148, 149. 
103 14. M. EMKepwia h. Poccma m pyccKoe eBpeMCTBO // PmE, c. 58-60. 


Chapter 17: Emigration between the two World Wars 

As a result of the October coup and the subsequent Civil War, hundreds of thousands 
Russian citizens emigrated abroad, some retreating in battles, others simply fleeing. Among 
those emigrants were the entire surviving combat personnel of the White Army, and many 
Cossacks. They were joined by the old nobility, who were so strikingly passive during the 
fateful revolutionary years, although their wealth was precisely in land or estates. Many 
former landowners, who failed to take their valuables with them, upon arrival to Europe had 
to become taxi drivers or waiters. There were merchants, industrialists, financiers, quite a 
few of whom had money safely deposited abroad, and ordinary citizens too, of whom not all 
were well-educated, but who could not bear to stay under Bolshevism. 

Many emigrants were Russian Jews. "Of more than 2 million emigrants from the Soviet 
republics in 1918-1922 more than 200,000 were Jews. Most of them crossed the Polish and 
Romanian borders, and later emigrated to the USA, Canada, and the countries of South 
America and Western Europe. Many repatriated to Palestine."[l] The newly formed 
independent Poland played an important role. It had a large Jewish population of its own 
before the revolution, and now a part of those who left Poland during the war were 
returning there too. "Poles estimate that after the Bolshevik revolution" 200-300 thousand 
Jews "arrived in Poland from Russia."[2] (This figure could be explained not only by 
increased emigration, but also by the re-arrangement of the Russian-Polish border). 
However "the majority of the Jews who left Russia in the first years after the revolution 
settled in Western Europe. For example, around 100,000 Russian Jews had gathered in 
Germany by the end of World War I. "[3] 

"While Paris was, from the beginning, the political centre and unofficial capital of Russia-in- 
Exile., The second, so to say cultural capital of Russian emigration in Europe from the end of 
1920 until the beginning of 1924, was Berlin (there was also an intense cultural life in the 
1920s in the Russian quarters of Prague, which became ... Russia-in-Exile's main university 
city). "[4] It was "easierto settle" in Berlin because of inflation. "On the streets of Berlin" you 
could see "former major industrialists and merchants, bankers and manufacturers," [5] and 
many emigres had capital there. Compared to other emigrants from Russia, Jewish 
emigrants had fewer problems with integration into the Diaspora life, and felt more 
confident there. Jewish emigrants were more active than Russians and generally avoided 
humiliating jobs. Mihkail Levitov, the commander of the Kornilov Regiment who had 
experienced all sorts of unskilled labour after emigration, told me: "Who paid us decently in 
Paris? Jews. Russian multi-millionaires treated their own miserably." 

Both in Berlin and in Paris "the Jewish intelligentsia was prominent - lawyers, book 
publishers, social and political activists, scholars, writers and journalists"[6]; many of them 
were deeply assimilated, while Russian emigrants "from the capitals [Moscow and St. 
Petersburg]" mostly had liberal opinions which facilitated mutual amity between the two 


groups (unlike the feeling between Jews and the Russian monarchist emigrants). The 
influence of Russian Jews in the entire cultural atmosphere of Russia-in-Exile between the 
two world wars was more than palpable. (Here it is proper to mention a very interesting 
series of collections, Jews in the Culture of Russia-in-Exile, published in Israel in 1990s and 
still continuing. [7]) Some Jewish families with a comfortable income opened Russian artistic 
salons, clearly demonstrating Jewish attachment to and immersion in Russian culture. There 
was a famously generous house of the Tsetlins in Paris. Many others, I. V. Gessen's (in Berlin), 
I. I. Fondaminsky-Bunakov (tireless in his "endless, selfless cares for Russian culture 
a broad" [8]), Sofia Pregel, Sonya Delone, Alexander and Salomeia Gal pern, were constantly 
engaged in the burdensome business of providing assistance for impoverished writers and 
artists. They helped many, and not just the famous, such as Bunin, Remizov, Balmont, Teffi, 
but also unknown young poets and painters. (However, this help did not extend to "White" 
and monarchist emigrants, with whom there was mutual antagonism). Overall, among all the 
emigrants, Russian Jews proved themselves the most active in all forms of cultural and social 
enterprise. This was so striking that it was reflected in Mihail Osorgin's article, Russian 
Loneliness, printed in the Russian Zionist magazine Rassvet [Dawn], re-established abroad by 
V. Jabotinsky. 

Osorgin wrote: "In Russia, there was not this 'Russian loneliness' neither in the social nor the 
revolutionary movement (I mean the depths and not just the surface); the most prominent 
figures who gave specific flavourto the whole movement ...were Slavic Russians." But after 
emigration "where there is a refined spirituality, where there is deep interest in thought and 
art, where the calibre of man is higher, there a Russian feels national loneliness; on the other 
hand, where there are more of his kin, he feels cultural solitude. I call this tragedy the 
Russian loneliness. I am not at all an anti-Semite, but I am primarily a Russian Slav... My 
people, Russians, are much closerto me in spirit, in language and speech, in their specific 
national strengths and weaknesses. For me, it is precious to have them as my fellow thinkers 
and peers, or perhaps it is just more comfortable and pleasant. Although I can respect the 
Jew, the Tatar, the Pole in the multi-ethnic and not at all "Russian" Russia, and recognise 
each as possessing the same right to Russia, our collective mother, as I have; yet I myself 
belong to the Russian group, to that spiritually influential group which has shaped the 
Russian culture." But now "Russians abroad have faded and given up and surrendered the 
positions of power to another tribe's energy. Jews adapt easier-and good for them! I am 
not envious, I am happy for them. I am equally willing to step aside and grant them the 
honour of leadership in various social movements and enterprises abroad.... But there is one 
area where this 'Jewish empowerment' strikes me at the heart - charity. I do not know who 
has more money and diamonds, rich Jews or rich Russians. But I know for certain that all 
large charitable organizations in Paris and Berlin can help poor Russian emigra nts only 
because they collect the money needed from generous Jewry. My experience of organizing 
soirees, concerts, meetings with authors has proven that appealing to rich Russians is a 
pointless and humiliating waste of time.... Just to soften the tone of such an 'anti-Semitic' 


article, I will add that, in my opinion, the nationally-sensitive Jew can often mistake national 
sensitivity of a Slav for a spectre of anti-Semitism. "[9] 

Osorgin's article was accompanied by the editorial (most likely written by the editor-in-chief 
Jabotinsky based on the ideas expressed and with a similarstyle) to the effect that M.A. 
Osorgin "has no reason to fearthat the reader of Rassvet would find anti-Semitic tendencies 
[in his article]. There was once a generation that shuddered at the word 'Jew' on the lips of a 
non-Jew. One of the foreign leaders of that generation said: 'The best favour the major press 
can give us is to not mention us.' He was listened to, and for a long time in progressive 
circles in Russia and Europe the word 'Jew' was regarded as an unprintable obscenity. Thank 
God, that time is over." We can assure Osorgin "of our understanding and sympathy.... 
However, we disagree with him on one point. He gives too much importance to the role of 
Jews in charity among refugees. First, this prominent role is natural. Unlike Russians, we 
were learning the art of living in Diaspora for a long time.... But there is a deeper 
explanation.... We have received much that is precious from the Russian culture; we will use 
it even in our future independent national art.... We, Russian Jews, are in debt to Russian 
culture; we have not come close to repaying that debt. Those of us that do what they can to 
help it survive during these hard times are doing what is right and, we hope, will continue 
doing so." [10] 

However let us return to the years immediately after the revolution. "Political passions were 
still running high among Russian emigrants, and there was a desire to comprehend what had 
happened in Russia. Newspapers, magazines, book publishers sprung up. "[11] Some rich 
men, usually Jews, financed this new liberal and more left-of-center Russian emigrant press. 
There were many Jews among journalists, newspaper and magazine editors, book publishers. 
A detailed record of their contribution can be found in The Book of Russian Jewry (now also 
in Jews in the Culture of Russia-in-Exile). 

Of significant historical value among these are the twenty two volumes of I. V. Gessen's 
Archive of the Russian Revolution. Gessen himself, along with A. I. Kaminkov and V. D. 
Nabokov (and G. A. Landau after the tatter's death), published a prominent Berlin 
newspaper Rul [Steering Wheel], "a kind of emigrant version of Rech [Speech]," but unlike 
Milyukov's brainchild, Josef Gessen's position was consistently patriotic. Rul often published 
articles by G. A. Landau and I. O. Levin, whom I have amply cited, and also articles by the 
famous literary critic U. I. Aikhenvald. The political spectrum of Berlin papers ranged from 
Rul on the right to the socialists on the left. A. F. Kerens ky published Dni [Days], which 
provided a platform for such personalities as A. M. Kulisher-Yunius (author "of a number of 
sociological works" and a Zionist from Jabotinsky's circle), S. M. Soloveichik, the famous 
former Socialist Revolutionary O.C. Minor (he also wrote for the Prague Volya Rossii 
[Russia's Will]), and the former secretary of the Constituent Assembly M. V. Vishnyak. In 
1921 U. O. Martov and R. A. Abramovich founded the Socialist Gerald in Berlin (it later 


moved to Paris and then New York). F. I. Dan, D. U. Dalin, P. A. Garvi, and G. Y. Aranson 
worked on it among others. 

V. E. Jabotinsky, whose arrival in Berlin (after three years in Jerusalem) coincided with the 
first wave of emigration, re-established Rassvet, first in Berlin and then in Paris, and also 
published his own novels. In addition "many Russian Jewish journalists lived in Berlin in 
1920-1923, working in the local and international emigrant press." There we could find I. M. 
Trotsky from the defunct Russkoe Slovo [Russian Word], N. M. Volkovyssky, P. I. Zvezdich 
(who died at the hands of Nazis during the World War II), the Menshevik S. O. Portugeis from 
the St. Petersburg Den [Day] (he wrote under the pseudonym S. Ivanovich), the playwriter 
Osip Dymov-Perelman, and the novelist V. Y. Iretsky.[12] 

Berlin also became the capital of Russian book publishing: "In 1922 all these Russian 
publishers released more Russian books and publications than there were German books 
published in the whole of Germany. Most of these publishers and booksellers were 
Jewish. "[13] Most notable were the publishing houses of I. P. Ladyzhnikov, owned since the 
war by B. N. Rubinstein (classical, modern and popular scientific literature), of Z. I. Grzhebin 
(which had links to the Soviets, and so sold some of his works in the USSR), the publishing 
house, Word, established as early as 1919 and run by I. V. Gessen and A. I. Kaminka 
(collections of Russian classics, emigrant writers and philosophers, valuable historical and 
biographical works), and the artistically superb issues of Zhar-Ptitsa run by A. E. Kogan. Also 
there was Edges of A. Tsatskis, Petropolis of Y. N. Blokh, Obeliskof A. S. Kagan, Helicon of 
A.G. Vishnyak, and Scythians of I. Shteinberg. S. Dubnov's World History of the Jewish People 
was also published in Berlin in ten German volumes, and during the 1930s in Russian in Riga. 

Riga and other cities in the once again independent Baltic countries (with their substantial 
Jewish populations) became major destinations of Jewish emigration. Moreover, "the only 
common language that Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians shared was Russian," and so the 
Riga newspaper Segodnya [Today] (publishers Ya. I. Brams and B. Yu. Polyak) became "highly 
influential." "A large number of Russian-Jewish journalists" worked there: the editor M. I. 
Ganfman, and after his death M. S. Milrud; Segodnya Vecherom [Today Evening] was edited 
by B. I. Khariton (the latter two were arrested by the NKVD in 1940 and died in Soviet camps). 
V. Ziv, an economist, and M. K. Aizenshtadt (under the pen names of first Zheleznov, then 
Argus) wrote for the newspaper. Gershon Svet wrote from Berlin. Andrei Sedykh (Y. M. 
Tsvibak) was its Paris correspondent, Volkovyssky reported from Berlin, and L. M. Nemanov 
from Geneva. [14] 

From the late 1920s, Berlin started to lose its position as the centre of emigrant culture 
because of the economic instability and the rise of Nazism. Rul had to close in 1931. 
Emigrants had dispersed with the "main wave going to France," especially to Paris which was 
already a major centre of emigration. 


In Paris the main emigrant newspaper was Poslednie Novosti [Breaking News], founded " at 
the beginning of 1920 by the St. Petersburg barrister M. L. Goldstein. It was financed by M. S. 
Zalshupin," and in a year the newspaper was bought by "P. N. Milyukov.... While it was in a 
precarious position, the paper was significantly financially supported by M. M. Vinaver." 
"Milyukov's right hand" was A. A. Polyakov. Editorials and political articles were written by 
Kulisher-Yunius (who was arrested in 1942 in France and died in a concentration camp). The 
international news section was run by M. Yu. Berkhin-Benedictov, an acquaintance of 
Jabotinsky. The staff included the acerbic publicists. L. Polyakov-Litovtsev (who had only 
learnt "to speak and write Russian at fifteen"), B. S. Mirkin-Getsevich (who wrote as Boris 
Mirsky), the noted Kadet [Constitutional Democrat] publicist Pyotr Ryss and others. 
Poslednie Novosti published the satirical articles of I. V. Dioneo-Shklovsky and the popular 
science ofYu. Delevsky(Ya. L. Yudelevsky). The best humorists were V. Azov (V. A. 
Ashkenazi), Sasha Cherny (A. M. Gliksberg), the "king of humour" Don-Aminado 
(Shpolyansky). Poslednie Novosti had the widest circulation of all emigrant news papers. [15] 
Shulgin called it "the citadel of political Jewishness and philo-Semitic Russians. "[16] Sedykh 
regarded this opinion as an "obvious exaggeration." The political tension around the paper 
also stemmed from the fact that immediately after the Civil War it was dedicated to 
"disclosure" and sometimes outright condemnation of the Volunteer Army. Sedykh noted 
that in Paris "there was not only a political divide, but also a national one"; "Milyukov's 
editorial team included many Russian-Jewish journalists," while "Jewish names virtually 
never appeared on the pages of the right-wing Vozrozhdenie [Rebirth] (with the exception of 
I. M. Bikerman).[17] (Vozrozhdenie was founded later than the other papers and ceased 
operation in 1927, when its benefactor Gukasov fired the main editor P. B. Struve.) 

The leading literary-political magazine Sovremennye Zapiski [Contemporary Notes], 
published in Paris from 1920 to 1940, was established and run by Socialist Revolutionaries, N. 
D. Avksentiev, 1. 1. Fondaminsky-Bunakov, V. V. Rudnev, M. V. Vishnyakand A. I.Gukovsky. 
Sedykh noted that "out of [its] five editors ... three were Jews. In 70 volumes of the 
Sovremennye Zapiski we see fiction, articles on various topics and the memoirs of a large 
number of Jewish authors." Illyustrirovannaya Rossia [Illustrated Russia] was published by 
the St. Petersburg journalist M. P. Mironov, and later by B. A. Gordon (earlierthe owner of 
Priazovsky Krai). [18] Its weekly supplement "gave the readers 52 pieces of classic or 
contemporary emigrant literature each year." (The literary emigrant world also included 
many prominent Russian Jews, such as Mark Aldanov, Semyon Yushkevich, the already 
mentioned Jabotinsky and Yuly Aikhenvald, M. O. Tsetlin (Amari). However, the topic of 
Russian emigrant literature cannot be examined in any detail here due to its immenseness.) 

Here I would like to address the life of llya Fondaminsky (born in 1880). Himself from a 
prosperous merchant family and married in his youth to the granddaughter of the millionaire 
tea trader V. Y. Vysotsky, he nonetheless joined the Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) and 
"sacrificed a large part of his wealth and his wife's inheritance to the revolution" [19] by 
buying weaponry. He worked towards the outbreak of the Ail-Russian political strike in 1905 


and during the uprising he served in the headquarters of the SRs. He emigrated from Russia 
to Paris in 1906, where he became close to D. Merezhkovsky and Z. Gippius and developed 
an interest in Christianity. He returned to St. Petersburg in April 1917. In the summer of 1917 
he was the commissar of the Black Sea Fleet, and later a delegate in the Constituent 
Assembly, fleeing after it was disbanded. From 1919 he lived in Paris, France, during the 
period under discussion. He devoted much time and effort to Sovremennye Zapiski, 
including publication of a series of articles titled The Ways of Russia. He played an active role 
in emigrant cultural life and provided all possible support to Russian writers and poets. For a 
while he even managed to maintain a Russian theatre in Paris. "His passion, many-sidedness, 
energy and selflessness ... were without parallel among emigrants ."[20] He estranged 
himself from the SRs and joined Christian Democrats. Along with the like-minded G. P. 
Fedotov and F. A. Stepun he began to publish the Christian Democratic Novy Grad [New City]. 
"He grew ever closerto Orthodoxy during these years. "[21] "In June 1940 he fled Paris from 
the advancing German forces," but came back and was arrested in Julyl941and sent to 
Compiegne camp near Paris; "by some accounts, he converted to Christianity there. In 1942 
he was deported to Auschwitz and killed."[22] 

Between 1920 and 1924, the most important forum for purely Jewish issues was the Paris 
weekly, Jewish Tribune, published in both French and Russian with the prominent 
participation of M. M. Vinaver and S. B. Pozner. It published articles by many of the 
aforementioned journalists from other newspapers. 

Novoe RusskoeSlovo [New Russian Word] was founded in 1910 in the United States and 
added its voice from across the ocean. Its publisher from 1920 was V. I. Shimkin and the 
main editor (from 1922) was M. E. Veinbaum. Veinbaum remembered: "The newspaper was 
often criticised, and not without reason. But gradually it earned the reader's 
confidence."[23](lts masthead now proudly boasts: "the oldest Russian newspaper in the 
world"; it is even two years older than Pravda. All the others have died out at various times, 
for various reasons.) 

Right-wing or nationalist Russian newspapers appeared in Sofia, Prague, and even Suvorin's 
Novoe Vremya [New Times] continued in Belgrade as Vechernee Vremya [Evening Times], 
but they all either collapsed or withered awaywithout leaving a lasting contribution. (The 
publisher of Rus in Sofia was killed.) The Paris Vozrozhdenie of Yu. Semenov "did not shirk 
from anti-Semitic outbursts" [24] (but not under Struve's short reign). 


Those who left soon after the Bolshevik victory could not even imagine the scale of inferno 
that broke out in Russia. It was impossible to believe in rumours. Testimonies from the 
White camp were mostly ignored. This changed when several Russian democratic journalists 
(the Constitutional Democrat (Kadet) A. V. Tyrkova -Williams, the socialist E. D. Kuskova 
(exiled from the USSR in 1922), and the escaped SR S. S. Maslov began to inform the stunned 


emigrant public about rapid growth of grass-root anti-Semitism in Soviet Russia: 
"Judeophobia is one of the most acrid features of modern Russia. Perhaps even the most 
acrid. Judeophobia is everywhere: North, South, East, and West. It is shared regardless of 
intellect, party membership, tribe, age.... Even some Jews share it."[25] 

These claims were at first met with suspicion by Jews who had emigrated earlier - what's 
the reason for this anti-Semitism? The Jewish Tribune initially rejected these claims: 
"generally, Russian Jewry suffered from Bolshevism perhaps more than any other ethnic 
group in Russia"; as to the "familiar identification of Jews and commissars" -we all know 
that it is the work of the [anti-Semitic] "Black Hundreds." The old view, that anti-Semitism 
resides not in the people but inTsarism, began to transform into another, that the Russian 
people are themselves its carriers. Therefore, Bolsheviks should be credited for the 
suppression of popular "Black Hundred" attitudes in Russia. (Others began to excuse even 
their capitulation at Brest [at which Russia ceded large amounts of territory to the Kaiser's 
German military]. The Jewish Tribune in 1924 dusted off even such argument: "the Russian 
revolution of 1917, when it reached Brest-Litovsk, prevented the much greater and more 
fateful betrayal planned by Tsarist Russia."[26]) 

Yet the information was gradually confirmed; moreover, a nti -Jewish sentiments spread over 
a large segment of Russian emigration. The Union for Russian Salvation (dedicated to crown 
prince Nikolai Nikolaevich) produced leaflets for distribution in the USSR in a manner like 
this: "To the Red Army. The Jews have ruled Great Russia forseven years...." "To Russian 
workers. You were assured that you would be the masters of the country; that it will be the 
'dictatorship of the proletariat.' Where is it then? Who is in power in all the cities of the 
republic?" Of course, these leaflets did not reach the USSR, but they scared and offended 
Jewish emigrants. 

S. Li tovtsev wrote: "In the beginning of 1920s, anti-Semitism among emigrants became 
almost an illness, a sort of delirium tremens. "[27] But it was a broader attitude as many in 
Europe during the first years after the Bolshevik victory rejected and damned the Jews, so 
that "the identification of Bolshevism with Judaism became a widespread part of European 
thought. It is ridiculous to assert that it is only anti-Semites preach this social-political 
heresy."[28] But could it be that the conclusions of Dr. Pasmanikwere somehow premature? 
Yet this is what he wrote in 1922: "In the whole civilised world, among all nations and social 
classes and political parties, it is the established opinion now that Jews played the crucial 
role in the appearance and in all the manifestations of Bolshevism. Personal experience tells 
that this is the opinion not only of downright anti-Semites, but also ... that representatives of 
the democratic public ... reference these claims, i.e., to the role of Jews not only in Russian 
Bolshevism, but also in Hungary, Germany and everywhere else it has appeared. At the same 
time, the downright anti-Semites care little for truth. For them all Bolsheviks are Jews, and 
all Jews are Bolsheviks."[29] 


Bikerman wrote a year later: "Waves of Judeophobia now roll over nations and peoples, with 
no end in sight"; "not just in Bavaria or Hungary ... not only in the nations formed from the 
ruins of the once great Russia ... but also in countries separated from Russia by continents 
and oceans and untouched by the turmoil.... Japanese academics came to Germany to get 
acquainted with anti-Semitic literature: there is interest in us even on distant islands where 
almost no Jews live.... It is precisely Judeophobia -the fearofthe Jew-destroyer. Russia's 
miserable fate serves as the material evidence to frighten and enrage." [30] 

In the collective declaration To the Jews of the World! the authors warn: "Never have so 
many clouds gathered above the Jewish people. "[31] 

Should we conclude that these authors exaggerated, that they were too sensitive? That they 
imagined a non-existent threat? Yet doesn't the abovementioned warning about "anti- 
Semitic literature in Germany" sound very scary - in retrospect, from our historical 

"The opinion that Jews created Bolshevism" was already so widespread in Europe (this was 
the "average opinion of French and English philistines," Pasmanik notes) that it was 
supported even by Plekhanov's son-in-law, George Bato, who claims in his book[32] that 
Jews are inherently revolutionaries: "as Judaism preaches an ideal of social justice on earth 
... it has to support revolution." Pasmanik cites Bato: "Over the centuries ... Jews have always 
been against the established order.... This does not mean that Jews carried out all 
revolutions, or that they were always the sole or even main instigators; they help the 
revolutions and participate in them"; "One can responsibly claim, as many Russian patriots, 
often from very progressive circles, do, that Russia now agonizes under the power of Jewish 
dictatorship and Jewish terror"; "Impartial analysis of the worldwide situation shows the 
rebirth of anti-Semitism, not so much against Jews as individuals, as againstthe 
manifestations of the Jewish spirit."[33] The Englishman Hilaire Belloc[34] similarly wrote 
about "the Jewish character of Bolshevik revolution," or simply: "the Jewish revolution in 
Russia." Pasmanik adds that "anyone who has lived in England recently knows that Belloc's 
opinion is not marginal." The books of both authors (Bato and Belloc) "are enormously 
popular with the public"; "journalists all over the world argue that all the destructive ideas of 
the past hundred years are spread by Jews, through precisely Judaism."[35] 

"We must defend ourselves," Pasmanik writes, "because we cannot deny obvious facts.... 
We cannot just declare that the Jewish people are not to blame for the acts of this or that 
individual Jew.... Our goal ... is not only an argument with anti-Semites, but also a struggle 
with Bolshevism ... not only to parry blows, but to inflict them on those proclaiming the 
Kingdom of Ham.... To fight against Ham is the duty of Japheth and Shem, and of Helenes, 
and Hebrews." Where should we look for the real roots of Bolshevism? "Bolshevism is 
primarily an anti-cultural force ... it is both a Russian and a global problem, and not the 
machination of the notorious 'Elders of Zion. "'[36] 


The Jews acutely realized the need to "defend themselves" in part because the post-war 
Europe and America were flooded with Protocols of the Elders of Zion, suddenly and virtually 
instantly. These were five editions in England in 1920, several editions in both Germany and 
France; half a million copies in America were printed by Henry Ford. "The unheard-of success 
of the Protocols, which were translated into several languages, showed how much the 
Bolshevik revolution was believed to be Jewish. [37]" English researcher Norman Cohn wrote: 
"in the years immediately after the World War I, when the Protocols entered mainstream 
and thundered across the world, many otherwise entirely sensible people took them 
completely seriously."[38] The London Times and Morning Post of that time vouched for 
their authenticity, although by August 1921 the Times published a series of articles from its 
Istanbul correspondent, Philipp Greaves, who sensationally demonstrated the extensive 
borrowing of the text inthe Protocols from Maurice Jolie's anti-Napoleon III pamphlets (The 
Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, 1864). At that time the French 
police managed to confiscate every single copy of the infamous pamphlet. 

The Protocols came to the West from a Russia overtaken by the Civil War. 

A journalistic fraud produced in the early 20th century (in 1900 or 1901), the Protocols were 
first published in 1903 in St. Petersburg. The mastermind behind them is thought to be P. I. 
Rachkovsky, the 1884-1902 head of the Foreign Intelligence unit of the Police Department; 
their production is attributed to Matvei Golovinsky, a secret agent from 1892 and son of V. A. 
Golovinsky, who was a member of Petrashevsky Circle. [The latter was a Russian literary 
discussion group of progressive-minded commoner-intellectuals in St. Petersburg organized 
by Mikhail Petrashevsky, a follower of the French Utopian socialist Charles Fourier. Among 
the members were writers, teachers, students, minor government officials, army officers. 
While differing in political views, most of them were opponents of the Tsarist autocracy and 
the Russian serfdom. Among those connected to the circle were writers Dostoyevsky]. (Still, 
new theories about the origin of the Protocols appear all the time). Although the Protocols 
were published and re-published in 1905, 1906, 1911, they had little success in pre- 
revolutionary Russia: "they did not find broad support in Russian society.... The Court did not 
give support to distribution either."[39] After many failed attempts, the Protocols were 
finally presented to Nicholas II in 1906 and he was very impressed. His notes on the margins 
of the book included: "What a foresight!', 'What precise execution!', "It is definitely them 
who orchestrated the [revolutionary] events of 1905!', 'There can be no doubt about their 
authenticity.' But when the right-wing activists suggested using the Protocols for the defence 
of the monarchy, Prime Minister P. A. Stolypin ordered a secret investigation into their 
origins. It showed they were a definite fabrication. The monarch was shocked by Stolypin's 
report, but wrote firmly: "remove the Protocols from circulation. You cannot defend a noble 
cause with dirty means."[40] And since then "Russia's rulers' dismissal of the Protocols of 
the Elders of Zion came into force: no reference to the 'Protocols' was allowed ... even 
during the Beilis Trial." [41] 


However "1918 changed everything for the Protocols. [42]" After the Bolsheviks seized 
power, after the murder of the royal family and the beginning of the Civil War, the 
popularity of the Protocols surged. They were printed and re-printed by the OsvAg [White 
Army counter-intelligence agency in the South of Russia] in Novocherkassk, Kharkov, Rostov- 
on-Don, Omsk, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, and were widely circulated among both the 
Volunteer Army and the population (and later Russian emigrants, especially in Sofia and 

"After the Bolshevik victory the selling of Protocols was banned in Russia" and become a 
criminal offence, but "in Europe the Protocols brought in by the White emigration played an 
ominous role in the development of right-wing ideology, especially National Socialism in 
Germany." [43] 

Exposure of the Protocols as forgery, and general denial of identity between Bolsheviks and 
Jews constituted a major share of liberal emigrant journalism of the 1920s and 1930s. We 
see several prominent Russians there: Milyukov, Rodichev, Burtsevand Kartashev. 

A.V. Kartashev, historian of religion, Orthodox theologian and at the same time, a public 
figure, wrote about the unacceptability of anti-Semitism for a Christian in the pre- 
revolutionary collection Shchit [Shield], [44] which I have often cited. In 1922, in emigration, 
he wrote the foreword to Yu. Delevsky's book on the Protocols. [45] In 1937 Burtsev too 
asked him to write a foreword for his book. Kartashev wrote in it: "A man with common 
sense, good will and a little scientific discipline cannot even discuss the authenticity of this 
police and journalistic forgery, though certainly a talented forgery, able to infect the 
ignorant.... It's unfair to continue supporting this obvious deceit after it has been so 
unambiguously exposed. Yet it is equally unfair to do the opposite, to exploit the easy victory 
over the Protocols authenticity to dismiss legitimate concerns.... A half-truth is a lie. The 
whole truth is that the Jewish question is posed before the world as one of the tragic 
questions of history. And it cannot be resolved either by savage pogroms, or by libel and lies, 
but only by honest and open efforts of all mankind. Pogroms and slander make a sensible 
and honest raising of the question more difficult, degrading it to outright stupidity and 
absurdity. They confuse the Jews themselves, who constantly emphasize their 'oppressed 
innocence' and expect from everybody else nothing but sympathy and some sort of 
obligatory Judeophilia." Kartashev certainly regarded debunking of this "sensational 
apocrypha" as a "moral duty," but also thought that "in washing out the dust of Protocols 
from the eyes of the ignorant, it is unacceptable to impair their vision anew by pretending 
that this obliterates the Jewish question itself."[46] 

Indeed, the "Jewish question" cannot be removed by either books or articles. Consider the 
new reality faced in the 1920s by Jews in the Baltic countries and Poland. In Baltics, although 
"Jews managed to maintain for a while their influential position in trade and industry" [47] 
they felt social pressure. "A good half of Russian Jewry lived in the newly independent 
states.... New states trumpet their nationalism all the louder the less secure they feel. "[48] 


There "Jews feel themselves besieged by a hostile, energetic and restless popular 
environment. One day, it is demanded that there be no more Jews percentage-wise in the 
institutions of higher learning than in the army ... the next, the airof everyday life becomes 
so tense and stressful that Jews can no longer breathe.... In the self-determined nations, the 
war against Jews is waged by the society itself: by students, military, political parties, and 
ordinary people." I. Bikerman concluded that "in leading the charge for self-determination, 
Jews were preparing the ground for their own oppression by virtue of higher dependence on 
the alien society."[49] "The situation of Jews in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania is literally tragic. 
Yesterday's oppressed are today's oppressors, what is more - extremely uncouth oppressors, 
entirely unashamed of their lack of culture. "[50] 

So it transpired "that the breakup of Russia also meant the breakup of Russian Jewry" as the 
history paradoxically showed that the Jews were better off in the united Russian Empire 
despite all the oppression. So now in these splintered border countries "Jews became the 
faithful guardians of the Russian language, Russian culture, impatiently waiting for the 
restoration of the great Russia. Schools that still teach in Russian became filled with Jewish 
children," to the exclusion of learning the languages of the newly-formed states. "In these 
tiny countries, the Russian Jew, accustomed to life in the open swathes of a great empire, 
feels uncomfortable, squeezed and diminished in his social status, despite all the civil rights 
and autonomy.... Indeed our people's fate is bound up with the fate of the great Russia."[51] 

Still, the position of Jewry in the circles of international post-war politics was strong, 
especially in Paris, and in particular regarding Zionism. "In July 1922 the League of Nations 
recognised the World Zionist Organization as the 'Jewish Agency,'" which first and foremost 
represented the interests of Zionists, and secondly of non-Zionists, and also provided 
support to the European Jews. [52] 

Bikerman accused the Zionists of seeing a "fragmented Russia ... as an ideal. This is why the 
organization of Russian Zionists calls itself not Russian, but Russo-Ukrainian. This is why the 
Zionists and related Jewish groups so assiduously fraternized with the Ukrainian 
separatists. "[53] 


After the Civil War, Soviet Russia sank into a heavy silence. From this point and for decades 
to follow, all independent voices were squashed and only the official line could be heard. 
And the less was heard from Russia, the louder was the voice of emigration. All of them, 
from anarchists to monarchists, looked back in pain and argued intensely: who and to what 
extent was to blame for what had happened? 

Discussion developed within emigrant Jewry as well. 

In 1923 Bikerman noted: "Jews answer everything with a familiargesture and fa mi liar words: 
we know, we're to blame; whenever something goes wrong, you'll look for a Jew and find 


one. Ninety percents of what is written in the contemporary Jewish press about Jews in 
Russia is just a paraphrase of this stereotype. And because it's impossible that we're always 
to blame for everything, Jews take from this the flattering and at first glance quite 
convenient conclusion that we're always and everywhere in the right."[54] 

However, consider: "Before the revolution, the Jewish society passionately argued that a 
revolution would save the Jews, and we still ardently adhere to this position." When the 
Jewish organizations gather resources in the West to aid their co-ethnics, suffering in the 
USSR, they "denounce, belittle, and slandereverything about pre-revolutionary Russia, 
including the most positive and constructive things; See, "the Bolshevik Russia has now 
become the Promised Land," egalitarian and socialist. Many Jews who emigrated from 
Russia settled in the United States, and "pro-Bolshevik attitudes spread quickly among 
them."[55] The general Jewish mood was that Bolshevism was better than restoration of 
monarchy. It was widely believed "that the fall of Bolshevism in Russia would inevitably 
engender a new wave of bloody Jewish pogroms and mass extermination.... And it is on this 
basis that Bolshevism is preferred as the lesserevil."[56] 

Then, as if to confirm that Bolsheviks are changing for the better, that they can learn, the 
NEP came! They've loosened their suffocating grip on the economy, and that made them all 
the more acceptable. "First NEP, then some concessions - hopefully, it'll all work out for 
us." [57] 

We cannot call the entire Jewish emigration pro-Bolshevik. Yet they did not seethe 
Bolshevik state as their main enemy, and many still sympathized with it. 

Yet a noteworthy incident, mockingly described in Izvestiya, happened to Goryansky, a 
Jewish emigrant writer.[58] In 1928, the already famous Babel (and already well-known for 
his links to the Cheka) was "temporarily residing" in Paris to muster creative inspiration. 
While in the Cafe Rotonda he noticed his "old acquaintance," probably from Odessa, who 
magnanimously offered his hand to him: "Greetings, Goryansky." But Goryansky stood up 
and contemptuously turned away from the offered hand. 

Rise of Hitlerism in Germany naturally and for a long time reinforced the preference for 
Bolshevism in the social mind of the European Jewry. 

The First International Jewish Congress took place in Vienna in August 1936. M. Vishnyak 
disapprovingly suggested that the collective attitude toward the Bolshevik regime was 
perfectly exemplified by the opinion of N. Goldman: if all sorts of freedom-loving 
governments and organizations "flatter and even fawn before the Bolsheviks ...why 
shouldn't supporters of Jewish ethnic and cultural independence follow the same path? ... 
Only Moscow's open support for anti-Jewish violence in Palestine slightly cooled the 
Congress leaders' disposition toward the Soviet state. Even then ... they only protested the 
banning of Hebrew ... and the banning of emigration from the USSR to Palestine, and, finally, 
they objected to the continuing suffering of Zionists in political prisons and concentration 


camps. Here N. Goldman found both the necessary words and inspiration."[59] In 1939 on 
the eve of the World War II, S. Ivanovich noted: "It cannot be denied that among emigrant 
Russian Jews" the mood was to "rely on the perseverance of the Soviet dictatorship" if only 
to prevent pogroms. [60] 

What of Jewish Bolsheviks? I. Bikerman: "Prowess doesn't taint - that is our attitude to 
Bolsheviks who were raised among us and to their satanic evil. Or the modern version: Jews 
have the right to have their own Bolsheviks"; "I have heard this declaration a thousand 
times"; at a meeting of Jewish emigrants in Berlin "one after the other, a respected Kadet, a 
Democrat, a Zionist ascended the podium" and each "proclaimed this right of Jews to have 
their own Bolsheviks ...their right to monstrosity."[61] 

"Here are the consequences of these words: Jewish opinion across the world turned away 
from Russia and accepted the Bolsheviks"; "when a famous, old, and well respected Jewish 
public figure -a white crow -suggested to a high Jewish dignitary inone of the European 
capitals organizing a protest against the executions of Orthodox priests in Russia [i.e. in the 
USSR], the latter, after reflecting on the idea, said that it would mean struggling against 
Bolshevism, which he considers an impossible thing to do because the collapse of Bolshevik 
regime would lead to anti-Jewish pogroms. "[62] 

But if they can live with Bolsheviks, what do they think of the White movement? When Josef 
Bikerman spoke in Berlin in November 1922 at the fifth anniversary of the founding of the 
White Army, Jewish society in general was offended and took this as a slight against them. 

Meanwhile, Dr. D. S. Pasmanik (who fought on the German front until February 1917, then in 
the White Army until May 1919, when he left Russia) had already finished and in 1923 
published in Paris his book Russian Revolution and Jewry: Bolshevism and Judaism (I cited it 
here), where he passionately argued against the commonplace explanation that Bolshevism 
originated from the Jewish religion. "The identification of Judaism with Bolshevism is a grave 
global danger." In 1923, together with I. M. Bikerman, G. A. Landau, I. O. Levin, D. O. Linsky 
(also an ex-member of the White Army) and V. C. Mandel, Pasmanik founded the National 
Union of Russian Jews Abroad. This group published an appeal To the Jews of the World! in 
the same year, and soon after published a collection Russia and the Jews in Berlin. 

Here is how they describe the taskthey undertook and their feelings. Pasmaniksaid: "The 
unspeakable pain of the Jew and the unending sorrow of the Russian citizen" motivated this 
work. "Because of the dark events of the recent years, it was difficult to find a balanced 
point of view on both Russian and Jewish questions. We ...attempted to merge the interests 
of the renewed Russia and of the afflicted Russian Jewry."[63] Linsky: "Unfathomed sorrow" 
dwells in the souls of those who "realize their Jewishness while similarly identifying as 
Russians." It is much easierwhen "one of the two streams of your national consciousness 
dries up, leaving you only a Jew or only a Russian, thus simplifying your position toward 
Russia's tragic experience. ...The villainous years of the revolution killed ... the shoots of hope" 


for rapprochement between Jews and Russians that had appeared just before the war; now 
"we witness active ... Russo-Jewish divergence." [64] Levin: "It is our duty to honestly and 
objectively examine the causes of and the extent of Jewish involvement in the revolution. 
This ... might have certain effect on future relations between Russians and Jews."[65] The co- 
authors of the collection rightly warned Russians not to mix up the meaning of the February 
Revolution and Jewish involvement in it. Bikerman if anything minimised this involvement 
(the power balance between the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Soldiers' and Workers' 
Deputies and the Provisional Government was for the most part unclear to contemporaries). 
However he thought that after the October Bolshevik coup "the Jewish right to have their 
Bolsheviks implies a duty to have also their right-wingers and extreme right-wingers, the 
polar opposites of the Bolsheviks."[66] Pasmanik: "In all its varieties and forms, Bolshevik 
communism ... is an evil and true foe of Jewry, as it is first of all the enemy of personal 
identity in general and of cultural identity in particular."[67] "Bound by a plethora of 
intimate connections to our motherland, to its political system, economy and culture, we 
cannot flourish while the country disintegrates around us."[68] 

Obviously, these authors were fully aware of the significance of the Russian catastrophe. In 
describing those years, I heavily relied on the work of these people with the hope that their 
bitter, but not at all "self-hating," reflections can finally be understood and comprehended 
in their entirety. 

Their 1923 Proclamation stated: "The National Union of Russian Jews Abroad firmly believes 
that the Bolsheviks epitomize the greatest evil for the Jews as well as for all other peoples of 
Russia.... It is time for the Jew to stop tremble at the thought of going against the 
revolution.... Rather, the Jew should fear going against his motherland [Russia] and his 
people [Jewish]."[69] 

However, the authors of Russia and the Jews sawthe Jewish national consciousness of the 
early 1920s as something very different from what they've thought it should have been. 
"Almost all circles and classes of Russian society are now engaged in grievous self-reflections, 
trying to comprehend what has happened... .Whether these self-accusations and admissions 
of guilt are fairor not, they at least reveal the work of thought, conscience, and aching 
hearts.... But it would be no exaggeration to claim that such spiritual work is the least 
noticeable among the Jewish intelligentsia, which is no doubt a symptom of certain 
morbidity.... For an outsider it appears that a typical Jewish intellectual has no 
concerns."[70] For this intellectual "everyone else is to blame - the government, the 
generals, the peasants, etc. He has nothing to do with all this.... In no way did he forge his 
own destiny and the destinies of those around him; he is just a passersby, hit on the head by 
a falling brick"; "so they were complicit in destroying [the world around them], but after it 
was finished they became unaware of their role in it." [71] 

Jewish Bolsheviks was a particular pain for the authors. "A sin that carries the seed of its own 
nemesis, ... what greater affliction is there for a people than to see its sons debauched?" [72] 


"It is not just that the Russian upheaval needed people of a certain sort for its perpetuation, 
or that the Jewish society provided this sort of people; what is most important is that they 
were not rebuffed, did not meet enough opposition from within their own society."[73] "It is 
our duty to shoulder the struggle specifically against the Jewish Bolsheviks, against all kinds 
of YevSeks [the 'Jewish Section,' the name given to officials appointed by the Soviets to deal 
with Jewish affairs], and against Jewish commissars in genera I. "[74] 

It should be noted that these authors were not alone in arguing that Russian (and now 
emigrant) Jews should fight againstthe Bolsheviks. From the pages of the Jewish Tribune: "If 
Bolshevism was swept from power in Russia by a wave of popular wrath, Jewry might be 
held, in the eyes of the masses, responsible for prolonging Bolshevism's lifespan.... Only 
active participation in the struggle to liquidate Bolshevism can secure Jews a safe position in 
the common cause of saving Russia."[75] 

Bikerman warned: if we support the Bolsheviks "on the principle that your own shirt is closer 
to the body" then "we should not forget that we thus allow the Russian to take care of his 
own shirt that is closerto his body; that it justifies the call, 'Slaughter Yids, Save Russia."'[76] 

What of the Jewish attitudes toward the White Army? "This unworthy attitude that Jews 
have towards people who have taken upon their shoulders the endlessly difficult task of 
fighting for Russia, forthe millions of the sheepish and weak-willed, points out to the 
complete moral disintegration, to a sort of perversion of mind...." While "all of us, Jews and 
non-Jews alike, placed ourselves obediently under the communist yoke and our backs under 
the whip, there were some Russians, courageous and proud, who overcame all obstacles, 
gathered from what remained of the breached and ripped apart fronts [of World War I], 
consolidated and raised the banner of resistance.... Just that they were willing to fight under 
these circumstances alone immortalizes them for the history. And these people became an 
object for abuse" on the side of so many Jews, "libeled by every loquacious tongue"; so 
"instead of appreciation the tragedy, we see epidemic mindlessness, endless laxity of speech, 
and triumphant superficiality." And yet "the Russia forwhich the Whites fought is not alien 
to us; it is 'our shirt' too. "[77] "Jewry should have fought for the White cause as forthe 
cause of Jewish salvation, for ... only in the restoration and swift rescue of Russian statehood 
can Jews find salvation from that death that has never been as close as in these days."[78] 

(Death was indeed approaching, although from another direction). 

Who would deny these conclusions today, after decades of Soviet regime? But at that time, 
only few authors, Jewish or Russian, could see so farahead. The Jewish emigrant community 
as a whole rejected these thoughts. And thus they had failed the test of history. It might be 
objected that it did not cause Jewry a noticeable, significant harm, and certainly it was not 
the Holocaust brought by Hitlerism. Yes, it did not bring commeasurable physical harm, but, 
historically, its spiritual harm was noticeable; take, for instance, the success of Bolshevism in 
the expulsion of the Jewish religion from the country where it had once deeply spread its 


sacred roots. And there was more - the Jews, by "betting on Bolshevism" influenced the 
overall course of events in Europe. 

The authors of the Russia and the Jews appealed in vain: "In the many centuries of Jewish 
dispersion ... there has not been a political catastrophe as deeply threatening to our national 
existence as the breaking of the Russian Power, for never have the vital forces of the Jewish 
people been as united as in the bygone, living Russia. Even the breakup of the Caliphate can 
scarcely compare with the current disaster." [79] "For the united Russian Jewry the breakup 
of Russia into separate sovereign states is a national calamity." [80] "If there is no place for 
the Jews inthe great spaces of the Russian land, inthe boundlessness of the Russiansoul, 
then there is no space [for Jews] anywhere in the world.... Woe to us, if we do not wise 
up." [81] 

Of course, by the very end of the 20th century we can easily reject these grim prophecies, if 
only as a matter of fact -just as enough space has been found on earth for formerly Russian 
Jews, so a Jewish state has been founded and secured itself, while Russia still lies in ruin, so 
powerless and humiliated. The warnings of the authors on how Russia should be treated 
already appear a great exaggeration, a failed prophecy. And now we can reflect on these 
words only in regard of the spiritual chord that so unexpectedly bound the two our peoples 
together in History. 

"If Russia is notour motherland, then we are foreigners and have no right to interfere in her 
national life." [82] "Russia will survive; her renaissance must become our national concern, 
the concern of the entire ... Russian Jewry."[83] And in conclusion: "The fate of Russian 
Jewry is inextricably linked to the fate of Russia; we must save Russia, if we want to save 
Jewry .... The Jews must fight the molesters of the great country shoulder to shoulder with 
all other anti-Bolshevikforces; a consolidated struggle againstthe common enemy will heal 
the rifts and substantially reduce the current dramatic and ubiquitous growth of anti- 
Semitism; only by saving Russia, can we prevent a Jewish catastrophe." [84] 

Catastrophe! - this was said ten years before Hitler's ascension to power, eighteen years 
before his stunning sweep across the USSR and before the start of his program of Jewish 
extermination. Would it have been possible for Hitler to preach hatred of "Jews and 
communists" in Germany so easily and successfully, to claim Jews and communists are the 
same, if the Jews were among the most prominent and persistent opponents of the Soviet 
regime? The spiritual search of the authors of Russia and the Jews led them to prophetically 
sense the shadow of the impending Jewish Catastrophe, though erring in its geographical 
origin and failing to predict other fateful developments. Yet their dreadful warning remained 

I am not aware of anything else close to Russia and the Jews in the history of Russian-Jewish 
relations. It shook the Jewish emigration. Imagine how hurtful it was to hear such things 
coming from Jewish lips, from within Jewry itself. 


On the part of Russians, we must learn a lesson from this story as well. We should take 
Russia and the Jews as an example of how to love our own people and at the same time be 
able to speak about our mistakes, and to do so mercilessly if necessary. And in doing that, 
we should never alienate or separate ourselves from our people. The surest path to social 
truth is for each to admit their own mistakes, from each, from every side. 

Having devoted much time and thought to these authors (and having dragged the reader 
along with me), I would like here to leave a brief record of their lives. 

Josef Menassievich Bikerman (1867-1942) came from a poor petty bourgeois family. He 
attended a cheder, then a yeshiva, provided for himself from the age of fifteen; educated 
himself under difficult circumstances. In 1903 he graduated from the historical -philological 
faculty of the Imperial Novorossiya University (after a two-year-exclusion gap for 
participation in student unrest). He opposed Zionism as, in his opinion, an illusory and 
reactionary idea. He called on Jews to unite, without relinquishing their spiritual identity, 
with progressive forces in Russia to fight for the good of the common motherland. His first 
article was a large tract on Zionism published in the Russkoe Bogatstvo [Russian Treasure] 
(1902, issue 7), which was noticed and debated even abroad. In 1905 he was deeply involved 
into the Liberation movement. He worked in several periodicals: Syn Otechestva [Son of the 
Fatherland], Russkoe Bogatstvo, Nash Den [Our day], Bodroe Slovo [Buoyant Word]. As an 
emigrant he was printed in the Paris Vozrozhdenie, when it was run by P. B. Struve. 

Daniil Samoilovich Pasmanik (1869-1930) was a son of Melamed (a teacher in a cheder). In 
1923 he graduated from the medical faculty of Zurich University and then practiced 
medicine in Bulgaria for seven years. In 1899-1905 he was the freelance lecturer in the 
medical faculty at Geneva University. He joined Zionist movement in 1900 and became one 
of its leading theorists and publicists. He returned to Russia in 1905 and passed the medical 
license exam. He participated in the struggle for civil rights for Jews; he opposed the Bund 
and worked on the program for Poale-Zion; in 1906-1917 he was a member of the Central 
Committee of the Russian Zionist organization. He was a member of editorial boards of 
Evreiskaya Zhizn [Jewish Life], and then of Rassvet. He wrote many articles for Evreisky Mir 
[Jewish World] and the Jewish Encyclopaedia. He published his medical works in specialized 
journals in German and French. Pasmanik was in Vienna when the WWI broke out in 1914, 
from where he with great difficulty managed to return to Russia; he joined the army and 
served in field hospitals until February 1917. He joined the Kadets after the February 
Revolution; he supported General Kornilov and the White movement; in 1918-1919 he was 
involved in the White government of the Crimea, was elected chairman of the Union of the 
Jewish Communities of the Crimea. In 1919 he emigrated from Russia to France. In 1920- 
1922 in Paris he together with V. L. Burtsev edited the White emigre newspaper Obshchee 
Delo [The Common Cause]. Overall, he authored hundreds of articles and tens of books; the 
most notable of them include Wandering Israel: The Psychology of Jewry in Dispersion 
(1910), Fates of the Jewish People: The Problems of Jewish Society (1917), The Russian 


Revolution and Jewry: Bolshevism and Judaism (1923) The Revolutionary Years in Crimea 
(1926), What Is Judaism? (French edition, 1930). 

IsaakOsipovich Levin (1876-1944) was a historian and publicist. Before the revolution, he 
worked as a foreign affairs commentator for Russkie Vedomosti [Russian Journal] and for the 
P. B.Struve's magazine, Russkaya Mysl [RussianThought]. He emigrated first to Berlin. He 
was a member of the Russian Institute of Science, worked in the Rul, Russkie Zapiski and in 
the historical-literary almanac Na Chuzhoi Storone [In the Foreign Land]; he regularly gave 
presentations (in particular on the topic of the rise of German anti-Semitism). He moved to 
Paris in 1931 or 1932. He was widowed and lived in poverty. Among his works are 
Emigration during the French Revolution and a book in French about Mongolia. During the 
German occupation he registered according to his "racial origins" as was required by 
authorities; he was arrested in the early 1943, for a short time was held in a concentration 
camp near Paris, then deported; he died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944. 

Grigory (Gavriel) Adolfovich Landau (1877-1941) was son of the well-known publicist and 
publisher A. E. Landau. He graduated from the law faculty of the St. Petersburg University in 
1902. He wrote for periodicals from 1903 (the newspapers Voskhod [Sunrise], Nash Den, 
Evreiskoe Obozrenie [Jewish Observer], the magazines Bodroe Slovo, Evreisky Mir, Vestnik 
Evropy [European Herald], Sovremennik, Severnye Zapiski [Northern Notes], the yearly 
almanac Logos). He was one of the founders of the Jewish Democratic Group in 1904 and the 
Union for Equal Rights for Jews in Russia in 1905. He was an outstanding Kadet, member of 
the Central Committee of the Kadet Party. In August 1917 he participated in the Government 
Conference in Moscow; from December 1917 he was a member of the Executive Committee 
of the Jewish Community of Petrograd. He emigrated to Germany in 1919; from 1922 to 
1931he was I. V. Gessen's deputy at Rul. Apart from Rul, he also wrote for the magazine, 
Russkaya Mysl, the weekly, Russia and the Slavs, the collection Chisla [Dates], etc. He often 
lectured at emigre evenings (in 1927 in the talk titled The Eurasian Delusion he criticised 
"eurasianism" as the movement contrary to the values of Russian history and leading to 
ideological Bolshevism). From Nazi Germany he fled for Latvia, where he worked for the Riga 
newspaper Segodnya [Today]. He was arrested by the NKVD in June 1941 and died in the 
Usollag camp (near Solikamsk) in November.[85] Among his works the most influential were 
Clownish Culture (in Nash Den, 1908), the article Twilight of Europe (Severnye Zapiski, 1914, 
issue 12), which antedated "much of what would later bestow worldwide fame on Oswald 
Spengler"[86] (and later a book with the same title (Berlin, 1923)), Polish-Jewish Relations 
(1915), On Overcoming Evil (in the collection book The Works of Russian Scholars Abroad, 
Berlin, 1923), The Byzantine and the Hebrew (Russkaya Mysl, 1923, issues land 2), Theses 
Against Dostoevsky (Chisla, volume 6, Paris, 1932), Epigraphs (Berlin, 1927). Much of what 
he wrote was dismissed by contemporaries. He was too conservative in spirit to be accepted 
by progressive public. He was a sagacious thinker. 


We could not find any substantial information about D. O. Linsky (he served in the White 
Army during the Civil War) or V. C. Mandel (active participant in Russian political life 1907- 
1918, he emigrated to Berlin and died in 1931). 


In Russia and the Jews the behavior of Jewish emigrants during 1920s was explicitly and 
harshly admonished. The authors called on their co-ethnics to "admit their own mistakes 
and not to judge the Great Russia in which they had lived and which they had made a home 
for hundreds of years"; "remember how they demanded justice for themselves and how 
upset they are when they are collectively accused for the acts of some individuals"[87]; Jews 
should not be afraid "to acknowledge some responsibility for all that has happened. "[88] 
"First of all we must determine precisely our share of responsibility and so counter anti- 
Semitic slander.. ..This is absolutely not about becoming accustomed to anti-Semitism, as 
claimed by some Jewish demagogues.... This admission is vital for us, it is our moral 
duty."[89] "Jewry has to pick righteous path worthy of the great wisdom of our religious 
teachings which will lead us to brotherly reconciliation with the Russian people.... to build 
the Russian house and the Jewish home so they might stand for centuries to come."[90] 

But "we spread storms and thunder and expect to be cradled by gentle zephyrs.... I know you 
will shriek that I am justifying pogroms! ... I know how much these people are worth, who 
think themselves salt of the earth, the arbiters of fate, and at the very least the beacons of 
Israel.... They, whose every whisper is about Black Hundreds and Black Hundreders, they 
themselves are dark people, their essence is black, viri obscure indeed, they were never able 
to comprehend ... the power of creativity in human history...." It is imperative for us "to 
make less of a display of our pain, to shout less about our losses. It is time we understood 
that crying and wailing... is mostly [evidence] of emotional infirmity, of a lack of culture of 
the soul.... You are not alone in this world, and your sorrow cannot fill the entire universe ... 
when you put on a display only your own grief, only your own pain it shows ... disrespect to 
others' grief, to others' sufferings. "[91] 

It could have been said today, and to all of us. 

These words cannot be obviated either by the millions lost in the prisons and camps of the 
GULag, nor by the millions exterminated in the Nazi death camps. 

The lectures of the authors of Russia and the Jews at that year's National Union of Jews 
"were met with great indignation" on the part of emigrant Jewry. "Even when explicitly or 
tacitly accepting the truth of the facts and the analysis, many expressed indignation or 
surprise that anyone dared to bring these into the open. See, it was not the right time to 
speak of Jews, to criticise them, to determine thei r revol utiona ry misdeeds and responsibility, 
when Jewry has just suffered so much and may suffer even more in the future."[92] The 
collection's authors "were almost declared 'enemies of the [Jewish] people,' the abetters of 
reaction and allies of the pogromists."[93] 


The Jewish Tribune replied them from Paris a few months later: "The question of 'Jewish 
responsibility for the Russian revolution' has hitherto only been posed by anti-Semites." But 
now "there is a whole penitent and accusative movement," apparently "we have to 'not only 
blame others, but also admit our own faults'"; yet there is nothing new apart from "the 
same old boring 'name counting' [of Jews among Bolsheviks]." "Too late ... did Mr. Landau 
come to love" "the old 'statehood'"; "'penitent' Jews turned reactionaries"; their "words are 
incompatible with the dignity of the Jewish people ... and are completely irresponsible."[94] 
Especially offensive was this attempt to "separate the 'popular" anti-Semitism from the 
'official' one", attempting to prove that "the people, the society, the country - the entire 
populace hates the Jews and considers them the true culprit responsible for all national 
woes"; just like those who connived the pogroms, they repeat "the old canard about the 
'popular anger. "'[95] Sometimes it descended into the outright abuse: "this group of Berlin 
journalists and activists, which has nearly disappeared from the Jewish public life by now ... 
craves to put themselves into limelight again ... and for that they could think of no better 
way than to attack their own compatriots, Russian Jews"; this "tiny group of loyalists Jews ... 
are blinded by a desire to turn the wheel of history backwards," they write "indecencies," 
give "comical advice," take on themselves the "ridiculous role of healers to cure national 
wounds." They should remember that "sometimes it is better to stay quiet."[96] 

One sophisticated modern critic could find a better assessment for that collection than a 
"severe hysteria." Both that attempt "and their later journey are genuine tragedies," in his 
opinion, and he explains this tragedy as a "self-hatred complex. "[97] 

Yet was Bikerman hateful when he wrote, on his "later tragic journey," that: "The Jewish 
people ... is not a sect, not an order, but a whole people, dispersed over the world but united 
in itself; it has raised up the banner of peaceful labour and has gathered around this banner, 
as around the symbol of godly order"?[98] 

However it is not true that European or emigre Jews did not at all hark to such explanations 
or warnings. A similardiscussion had taken place a little earlier, in 1922. In the re-established 
Zionist publication Rassvetthe nationalist G. I. Shekhtman expressed his incomprehension at 
how the intelligentsia of other nationalities could be anything other than nationalistic. An 
intelligentsia is invariably connected to its own nationality and feels its pains. A Jew cannot 
be a "Russian democrat", but naturally a "Jewish democrat." "I do not recognise dual 
national or democratic loyalties." And if the Russian intelligentsia "does not identify with its 
nationality" (Herzen), it is simply because until now it "has not had the opportunity or need 
to feel sharp pains over its national identity, to worry about it. But that has changed now." 
Now the Russian intelligentsia "has to cast aside its aspirations to be a universal All -Russian 
intelligentsia, and instead to regard itself as the Great Russian democracy." [99] 

It was difficult to counter. The gauntlet was picked up by P. N. Milyukov, though not very 
confidently. We remember (see Chapter 11) that back in 1909 he had also expressed horror 
at the unveiling of this stinging, unpleasant national question "who benefits?" But now this 


new awkward situation (and not a change in Milyukov's views), when so many Russian 
intellectuals in emigration suddenly realized that they lost thei r Russia, forced Milyukov to 
amend his previous position. He replied to Shekhtman, though in a rather ambiguous 
manner and not in his own (highly popular) Poslednie Novosti, but in the Jewish Tribune with 
much smallercirculation, to the effect that a RussianJew could and had to be a "Russian 
democrat." Milyukov treaded carefully: "but when this demand ... is fulfilled, and there 
appears a 'new national face' of Russian Democracy (the Great Russian)," well, wouldn't 
Shekhtman be first to get scared at the prospect of "empowerment of ethnically conscious 
Great Russian Democracy with imperial ambitions." Do we then need these phantoms? Is 
this what we wish to ruin our relations over?[100] 

The emigres lived in an atmosphere of not just verbal tension. There was a sensational 
murder trial in Paris in 1927 of a clock-maker Samuel Shvartsbard, who lost his whole family 
in the pogroms in Ukraine, and who killed Petliura with five bullets. [101] (Izvestiya 
sympathetically reported on the case and printed Shvartsbard's portrait. [102]) The defence 
raised the stakes claiming thatthe murder was a justified revenge for Petliura's pogroms: 
"The defendant wished and felt a duty to raise the issue of anti-Semitism before the world's 
conscience. "[103] The defence called many witnesses to testify that during the Civil War 
Petliura had been personally responsible for pogroms in Ukraine. The prosecution suggested 
thatthe murder had been ordered by Cheka. "Shvartsbard, agitated, called out from his 
place: '[the witness] doesn't want to admit that I acted as a Jew, and so claims I'm a 
Bolshevik."'[104] Shvartsbard was acquitted by the French court. Denikin [a leading White 
general during the Civil War] was mentioned at that trial, and Shvartsbard's lawyer 
proclaimed: "If you wish to bring Denikin to trial, I am with you"; "I would have defended the 
one who would have taken revenge upon Denikin with the same passionate commitment as 
I am here defending the man who had taken revenge upon Petliura. "[105] And as Denikin 
lived in Paris without guards, anyone wishing to take revenge upon him had an open road. 
However Denikin was never put on trial. (A similar murder happened later in Moscow in 
1929, when Lazar Kolenberg shot the former White general Slashchev, [who after the Civil 
War returned to Russia and served in Soviet military], for doing nothing to stop pogroms in 
Nikolayev. "During the investigation, the accused was found to be mentally incompetent to 
stand trial and released. "[106]) During Shvartsbard's trial the prosecutor drew a pa rallel to 
another notorious case (that of Boris Koverda): for Petliura had previously lived in Poland, 
but "you [speaking to Shvartsbard] did not attempt to kill him there, as you knew that in 
Poland you would be tried by military tribunal."[107] In 1929, a young man, Boris Koverda, 
also "wishing to present a problem before the world's conscience," had killed the Bolshevik 
sadist Voikov; he was sentenced to ten years in jail and served his full term. 

A White emigre from Revolutionary Terrorist Boris Savinkov's group, Captain V. F. 
Klementiev, told me that in Warsaw at that time former Russian officers were abused as 
"White-Guard rascals" and that they were not served in Jewish-owned shops. Such was the 
hostility, and not just in Warsaw. 


Russian emigres all over Europe were flattened by scarcity, poverty, hardship, and they 
quickly tired of the showdown over "who is more to blame?" Anti-Jewish sentiments among 
them abated in the second half of the 1920s. During these years Vasily Shulgin wrote: "Are 
not our 'visa ordeals' remarkably similarto the oppression experienced by Jews in the Pale 
of Settlement? Aren't our Nansen passports [internationally recognized identity cards first 
issued by the League of Nations to stateless refugees], which are a sort of wolf ticket 
obstructing movement, reminiscent of the 'Jewish religion' label, which we stamped in 
Jewish passports in Russia, thereby closing many doors to them? Do we not resort to all 
kinds of middleman jobs when we are unable to attain, because of our peculia r position, a 
civil servant post or a certain profession? ... Are we not gradually learning to 'work around' 
laws that are inconvenient for us, precisely as Jews did with our laws, and for which we 
criticized them?" [108] 

Yet during these same years anti-Jewish sentiments were on the rise in the USSR and were 
even reported in the Soviet press, causing distress among Jewish emigres. So in May 1928 a 
public "debate on anti-Semitism" was organized in Paris among them. A report of it was 
placed in the Milyukov's news pa per. [109] (Bikerman's and Pasmanik's group, already non- 
active, did not participate.) 

The formal reason for the debate was "a strong rise of Judeophobia in Russia, a 
phenomenon that periodically occurs there." The Socialist Revolutionary N. D. Avksentiev 
chaired the debate, and there were "more Russians than Jews" among the public. Mark 
Slonim explained that "the long oppressed Russian Jewry, having finally attained freedom, 
has dashed to secure formerly prohibited positions," and this annoys Russians. "In essence, 
the past fateful ly determined the present." "Bad things" of the past (Tsarist times) "resulted 
in bad consequences." S. Ivanovich stated that Jews were now tormented in the USSR, 
because it has become impossible to torment "the bourgeois" tha nks to the NEP. But what is 
worrying is that the Russian intelligentsia in the USSR, although neutral on the Jewish 
question, now takes the liberty to think: good, "it will begin with anti-Semitism, and lead to 
the Russian freedom. What a dangerous and foolish illusion." 

Such apologetic ideas outraged the next orator, V. Grosman: "It is as if Jewry stands accused!" 
The question needs to be considered more deeply: "There is no reason to distinguish Soviet 
anti-Semitism from the anti-Semitism of old Russia," that is to say there is still the same 
Black Hundredism so dear to Russian hearts. "This is not a Jewish question, but a Russian 
one, a question of Russian culture." 

(But if it is so quintessential^ Russian, entirely Russian, inherently Russian problem, then 
what can be done? What need then for a mutual dialogue?) 

The author of the debate report, S. Litovtsev, regretted post factum that it was necessary to 
find for the debate "several honest people, brave enough to acknowledge their anti- 
Semitism and frankly explain why they are anti-Semites ... Who would say simply, without 


evasiveness: 'I don't like this and that about Jews...' Alongside there should have been 
several equally candid Jews who would say: 'and we don't like this and that about you...' 
Rest assured, such an honest and open exchange of opinions, with goodwill and a desire for 
mutual comprehension, would be really beneficial for both Jews and Russians - and for 

Shulgin replied to this: "Now, among Russian emigres, surely one needs more bravery to 
declare oneself a philo-Semite." He extended his answer into a whole book, inserting 
Litovtsev's question into the title, What we don't like about them. [Ill] 

Shulgin's book was regarded as anti-Semitic, and the proposed "interexchange of views" 
never took place. Anyway, the impending Catastrophe, coming from Germany, soon took the 
issue of any debate off the table. 

A Union of Russian-Jewish Intelligentsia was created in Paris as if in the attempt to preserve 
a link between the two cultures. Yet it soon transpired that "life in exile had created a chasm 
between fathers and sons, and the latter no longer understand what a "Russian-Jewish 
intelligentsia" is. [112] So the fathers sadly acknowledged that "the Russian Jews, who used 
to lead global Jewry in spiritual art and in the nation building, now virtually quit the 
stage."[113] Before the war, the Union had managed to publish only the first issue of 
collection Jewish world. During the war, those who could, fled across the ocean and 
untiringly created the Union of Russian Jews in New York City, and published the second 
issue of the Jewish World. In the 1960s, they published the Book of Russian Jewry in two 
volumes, about pre- and post-revolutionary Jewish life in Russia. The bygone life in the 
bygone Russia still attracted their minds. 

In this work I cite all these books with gratitude and respect. 


[1] Kratkaja Evreiskaja Entsiklopedija [The Short Jewish Encyclopedia (henceforth —SJE)]. Jerusalem, 1996. v. 8, 
p. 294. 

[2] James Parkes. The Jew and his Neighbour: a Study of the Causes of Antisemitism. Paris: YMCA-Press, 1932, p. 

[3] D. Kharuv. Evreiskaja emigratsija iz Rossiiskoj imperii i SovetskogoSojuza: statisticheskij aspect [Jewish 
Emigration from the Russian Empire and Soviet Union: statistical aspect]//Russkoeevreistvo v zarubezhje: 
Statji, publikatsii, memuary i esse [Russian Jewry in Exile: Articles, Publications, Memoires,and Essays]. 
Jerusalem, 1998, v. 1 (6), p. 352. 

[4] Gleb Struve. Russkaja literatura vizgnanii [Russian Literature in Exile]. The 2nd edition. Paris, YMCA-Press, 
1984, p. 24. 

[5] A. Sedykh. Russkieevrei v emigrants koj literature [Russian Jews in the emigre Literature] // Kniga o russkom 
evrejstve: 1917-1967 [The Book of Russian Jewry: 1917-1967 (henceforth — BRJ-2)]. New York: Association of 
Russian Jews, 1968, p. 426-427. 

[6] Ibid., p. 426. 


[7] Evrei v culture Russkogo Zarubezhja:Statji, publikatsii, memuary i esse [Jews in the Culture of Russia -in- 
Exile: Articles, Publications, Memoires, and Essays]. In 5 vol umes, Jerusalem, 1992-1996, complied by M. 
Parkhomovskij. See also Rus skoe evrei stvov zarubezhje: Statji, publikatsii, memuary i esse [Russian Jewry in 
Exile: Articles, Publications, Memoires, and Essays]. Jerusalem, 1998, compiled and edited by M. Parkhomovskij. 

[8] Roman Gul. Ya unes Rossiju [I HaveCarried Russiawith Me]. New York, Most, 1984, v. 2: Russia in France, p. 

[9] M. Osorgin. Russkoeodinochestvo [Russian Loneliness]. Publ ication of A. Razgon. // Jews in the Culture of 
Russia-in-Exile: Articles, Publications, Memoires, and Essays. V. 1, p. 15-17. (Reprinted from Rassvet. Paris, 
January 15, 1925(7)). 

[10] M. Osorgin. Russkoeodinochestvo [Russian Solitude].// Jews in the Culture of Russia-in-Exile. V. 1, p. 18- 

[11] A. Sedykh. Russkie evrei v emigrants koj literature [Russian Jews in the emigre Literature] // BRJ-2, p. 427. 
[12] Ibid., 429, 430. 

[13] I. Levitan. Russkie izdatelstva v20-kh gg. v Berline [Russian Publishing Houses in Berlin in 1920s]. //BRJ-2, 
p. 448. 

[14] A. Sedykh. Russkie evrei v emigrants koj literature [Russian Jews in the emigre Literature] // BRJ-2, p. 431, 

[15] Ibid., p. 431, 432-434. 

[16] V. V. Shulgin. "Chto nam v nikh ne nravitsya...: ob antisemitizmev Rossii" [What we don't I ike a bout them: 
on Anti-Semitism in Russia (henceforth - V. V. Shulgin]. Paris, 1929, p. 210. 

[17] A. Sedykh. Russkie evrei v emigrants koj literature [Russian Jews in the emigre Literature] // BRJ-2, p. 432, 

[18] Ibid., p. 435-436. 
[19] SJE, v.9, p. 253. 

[20] Roman Gul. Ya unes Rossiju [I Have Carried Russia with Me]. New York, Most, 1984, v. 2: Russia in France, p. 

[21] Gleb Struve. Russkaja literatura vizgnanii [Russian Literaturein Exile]. The 2nd edition. Paris, YMCA-Press, 
1984, p. 230. 

[22] SJE, v.9, p. 255. 

[23] A. Sedykh. Russkie evrei v emigrants koj literature [Russian Jews in the emigre Literature] // BRJ-2, p. 443. 
[24] Ibid., p. 432. 

[25] S. S. Moslov. Rossija poslechetyrekh let revolutsii [Russia After Four Years of Revolution]. Paris: Russkaya 
Pechat [Russian Press], 1922, v.2, p. 37. 

[26] B. Mirsky.Chernaja sotnya [The Black Hundred]. // Evreiskaja tribuna: Ezhenedelnik, posvyashchenny 
interesam russkikh evreev [The Jewish Tribune: A Weekly Dedicated to the Interests of Russian Jews]. Paris, 
February 1, 1924, p. 3. 


[27] S. Litovtsev. Disputob antisemitizme [Debate on Anti-Semitism]. // Poslednie Novosti, May 29, 1928, p. 2. 

[28] D. S. Pasmanik. Russkaja revolutsia i evreistvo: (Bolshevism i iudaizm) [Russian Revolution and Jewry: 
Bolshevism and Judaism]. Paris, 1923, p. 9. 

[29] Ibid. 

[30] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoe evreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // Rossiya i evrekOtechestvennoe 
objedinenierusskikh evreev za granitsei [Russia and Jews: Expatriate Society of Russian Jews in Exile 
(henceforth— RJ)]. Paris, YMCA-Press, 1978, p. 11-12 [The IstEdition: Berlin, Osnova, 1924]. 

[31] To the Jews of the World!// RJ, p. 6. 

[32] Georges Batault. Leproblemejuif. Sedition, Paris, 1921. 

[33] D. S. Pasmanik. Russkaja revolutsia i evreistvo: (Bolshevism i iudaizm) [Russian Revolution and Jewry: 
Bolshevism and Judaism]. Paris, 1923, p. 15-16, 95. 

[34] HilaireBelloc. The Jews. London, 1922. 

[35] D. S. Pasmanik. Russkaja revolutsia i evreistvo: (Bolshevism i iudaizm) [Russian Revolution and Jewry: 
Bolshevism and Judaism]. Paris, 1923, p. 16, 78. 

[36] Ibid., p. 11-13. 

[37] M. Daursky. Ideologiya national-bolshevizma [Ideology of National Bolshevism]. Paris. YMCA-Press, 1980, p. 

[38] Norman Cohn. Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the "Protocols of the 
Elders of Zion". Russian translation. Moscow, Progress, 1990, p. 24 

[39] SJE, v.6, p. 846. 

[40] This information was obtained by V. L. Burtsev in 1934 from General K. I. Globachev,the former head of St. 
Petersburg Guard Department (from February 1915 until March 1917). Burtsev publ i shed this information in 
1938 in Paris in his study ofthe Protocols ofthe Elders of Zion. See V. L. Burtsev. V pogone za provokatorami. 
"Protokoly sionskikh mudretsov"- dokazanny podlog [Chasing the Provocateurs. Protocols ofthe Elders of Zion 
is a proven forgery]. Foreword by Yu. V. Davydov, annotation by L. G. Aronov. Moscow, 1991. 

[41] SJE, v.6, p. 847. 

[42] Ibid. 

[43] SJE, v.6, p. 848. 

[44] A. V. Kartashev.lzbrannyei pomilovannye [The Chosen and the Pardoned].// Sheet: Literaturny sbornik 
[Shield: Literary Collection]. Edited by L. Andreev, M. Gorky and F. Sologub. The 3rd Enlarged Edition. Moscow, 
Russian Society on Study of Jewish Life, 1916, p. 110-115. 

[45] Yu. Delevsky. Protokoly sionskikh mudretsov:istorija odnogo podloga [Protocols ofthe Elders of Zion: the 
History of a Forgery]. Berlin, 1923. 

[46] State Archive ofthe Russian Federation,fonds 5802, catalog 1, file 31, p. 417-421. The foreword by A. V. 
Kartashev was not published by V. L. Burtsev in 1938 but was preserved among his papers. We discovered the 
fact of existence of this foreword from the article of O. Budnitsky "Evreiskij vopros" v emigranskoj publitsistike 


1920-1930-kh ["The Jewish Question" in Emigrant Journalismof 1920-1930s].//Evrei i russkaja revolutsia: 
Materia ly i issledovanija [Jews and the Russian Revolution: Materials and Studies]. Edited by O. V. Budnitsky; 
Moscow, Jerusalem. Gesharim, 1999. 

[47] I. Gar. Evrei v Pribaltijskikh stranakh pod nemetskoj okkupatsiej [Jews in the Baltic countries under German 
Occupation].// BRJ-2, p. 95. 

[48] To the Jews of the World!// RJ, p. 6. 

[49] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoeevreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // RJ, p. 87-89. 
[50] D. S. Pasmanik. Chego zhe my dobivaemsya [What Do We Want to Achieve?]. // RJ, p. 219. 
[51] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoeevreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // RJ, p. 84, 89. 
[52] SJE, v.7, p. 890. 

[53] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoeevreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // RJ, p. 40. 

[54] Ibid., p. 12. 

[55] Ibid., p. 47, 48,72. 

[56] Yu. Delevsky. Menshee I i zlo bolsheviki? [Are Bolsheviks the Lesser Evil?] // The Jewish Tribune, September 
19, 1922, p. 2. 

[57] D. S. Pasmanik. Chego zhe my dobivaemsya [What Do We Want to Achieve?]. // RJ, p. 221. 
[58] G. Ryklin.Sluchai s babel em [An Incidentwith Babel].// Izvestiya, March 16,1928, p. 5. 
[59] PoslednieNovosti. August 13, 1936. 

[60] S. Ivanovich. Evrei i sovetskaya diktatura [Jews and the Soviet Dictatorship].// 

[61] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoeevreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // RJ, p. 23-24. 

[62] Ibid., p. 54-55. 

[63] D. S. Pasmanik. Russkaja revolutsia i evrei stvo: (Bolshevism i iudaizm) [Russian Revolution and Jewry: 
Bolshevism and Judaism]. Paris, 1923, p. 7, 14. 

[64] D. O. Linsky.O natsionalnomsamosoznanii russkogo evreja [Onthe National Consciousness of the Russian 
Jew]. //RJ, p. 141, 144-145. 

[65] I.O. Levin. Evrei v revolutsii [The Jews in the Revolution].// RJ, p. 124. 

[66] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoeevreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // RJ, p. 24. 

[67] D. S. Pasmanik. Chego zhe my dobivaemsya [What Do We Want to Achieve?]. // RJ, p. 215. 

[68] To the Jews of the World!// RJ, p. 5. 

[69] Ibid., p. 7-8. 

[70] G. A. Landau. Revolutsionnye idei v evrei skoi obshchestvennosti [Revolutionary Ideas in Jewish Society]. // 
RJ, p. 100. 


[71] Ibid., p. 104. 

[72] To the Jews of the World!// RJ, p. 6. 

[73] G. A. Landau. Revolutsionnye idei v evreiskoi obshchestvennosti [Revolutionary Ideas in Jewish Society]. // 
RJ, p. 118. 

[74] D. S. Pasmanik.Chego zhe my dobivaemsya [What Do We Want to Achieve?]. // RJ, p. 225. 

[75] Yu. Delevsky. Menshee li zlo bolsheviki? [Are Bolsheviks the Lesser Evil?] //The Jewish Tribune, September 
19, 1922, p. 3. 

[76] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoeevreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // RJ, p. 78. 
[77] Ibid., p. 52, 53-54. 

[78] D. O. Linsky. O natsionalnom samosoznanii russkogo evreja [On the National Consciousness of the Russian 
Jew]. //RJ, p. 149. 

[79] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoeevreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // RJ, p. 92. 

[80] V. S. Mandel. Konservativnye i razrushitelnyeelementy v evreisve [Conservative and Subversive Forces 
among Jewry]. // RJ, p. 202. 

[81] D. O. Linsky. O natsionalnom samosoznanii russkogo evreja [On the National Consciousness of the Russian 
Jew]. //RJ, p. 153, 154. 

[82] D. S. Pasmanik.Chego zhe my dobivaemsya [What Do We Want to Achieve?]. // RJ, p. 227-228. 

[83] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoeevreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // RJ, p. 93. 

[84] D. S. Pasmanik.Chego zhe my dobivaemsya [What Do We Want to Achieve?]. // RJ, p. 217-218. 

[85] The information aboutG. A. Landau's arrestand death was taken from V. Gessen. losif Gessemjurist, 
politiki zhurnalist [Josef Gessen: an attorney, politician and journalist]. //Jews in the Culture of Russia -in-Exile: 
Articles, Publications, Memoires, and Essays. Jerusalem, 1993, v. 2, p. 543. 

[86] Fyodor Stepun. Byvshee i nesbyvsheesja [What Have Been and What Might-have-been]. The 2nd Edition. 
London, Overseas Publications, 1990, v. 1, p. 301. 

[87] V. S. Mandel . Konservativnye i razrushitel nyeelementy v evreisve [Conservative and Subversive Forces 
among Jewry]. // RJ, p. 204. 

[88] D. S. Pasmanik.Chego zhe my dobivaemsya [What Do We Want to Achieve?]. // RJ, p. 210. 
[89] Ibid., p. 212, 213. 

[90] D. O. Linsky. O natsionalnom samosoznanii russkogo evreja [On the National Consciousness of the Russian 
Jew]. //RJ, p. 152. 

[91] I. M. Bikerman. Rossija i russkoeevreistvo [Russia and Russian Jewry]. // RJ, p. 74-75. 

[92] G. A. Landau. Revolutsionnye idei v evreiskoi obshchestvennosti [Revolutionary Ideas in Jewish Society]. // 
RJ, p. 100-101. 

[93] D. S. Pasmanik. Chego zhe my dobivaemsya [What Do We Want to Achieve?]. // RJ, p. 226. 


[94] A. Kulisher.Obotvetstvennosti i bezotvetstvennosti [On Responsibility and Irresponsibility]. //The Jewish 
Tribune, April 6, 1923, p. 3-4. 

[95] B. Mirsky."l6 punktov" ["16 Points"]. // The Jewish Tribune, April 7, 1924, p. 2. 

[96] S. Pozner. V chem zhe delo? [So What's the problem?] //The Jewish Tribune, April 7, 1924, p. 1-2. 

[97] Sh. Markish. O evreiskoj nenavisti k Rossi i [Onthe Jewish Hatred Toward Russia]. //"22": Obshchestvenno- 
pol itichesky i literaturny zhurnal evreyskoj intel ligentsii izSSSR v Izraile [Social, Political and Literary Journal of 
the Jewish Intelligentsia fromthe USSR in Israel]. Tel -Aviv, 1984, (38), p. 218. 

[98] I. M. Bikerman. K samopoznaniju evreya: chem. my byli, chem. my stal i, chem. my dolzhny stat [On the 
Self-knowledge of the Jew: Who We Were, Who We Are, Who We Must Become]. Paris, 1939, p. 25. 

[99] P. N. Milyukov. Natsionalnosti natsia [Ethnicity and Nation].// The Jewish Tribune, September 1, 1922, p. 

[100] Ibid. 

[101]PoslednieNovosti. October 14, 1927, p. 2; October 19, 1927, p. 1-2. 
[102] Izvestiya, October 21, p. 3. 
[103] Izvestiya, October 22, p. 1. 
[104] Izvestiya, October 23, p. 1. 

[105]PoslednieNovosti. October 25, 1927, p. 2; October 26, 1927, p. 1. 

[106] Russian Jewish Encyclopedia. The 2nd Revised and Enlarged Edition. Moscow, 1995, v. 2, p. 59. 
[107].PoslednieNovosti. October 23,1927, p. 1. 
[108]V. V. Shulgin,p. 156. 
[109]PoslednieNovosti. May 29, 1928. 

[110]S. Litovtsev. Disputob antisemitizme [Debate on Anti-Semitism]. // Poslednie Novosti, May 29, 1928, p. 2. 
[111]V. V. Shulgin,p. 11. 

[112]S. M. Ginzburg. O russko-evreiskoi intelligentsia [On Russian Jewish Intelligentsia]. //JW-1, p. 33. 
[113] Foreword //JW-1, p. 7. 


Chapter 18: In the 1920s 

The twenties in the Soviet Union was an epoch with a unique atmosphere - a grand social 
experiment which intoxicated world liberal opinion for decades. And in some places this 
intoxication still persists. However, almost no one remains of those who drank deeply of its 
poisonous spirit. 

The uniqueness of that spirit was manifested in the ferocity of class antagonism, in the 
promise of a never-before-seen new society, in the novelty of new forms of human 
relationships, in the breakdown of the nation's economy, daily life and family structure. The 
social and demographic changes were, in fact, colossal. 

The "great exodus" of the Jewish population to the capitals began, for many reasons, during 
the first years of communist power. Some Jewish writers are categorical in their description: 
"Thousands of Jews left their settlements and a handful of southern towns for Moscow, 
Leningrad and Kiev to find "real life" (1)." 

Beginning in 1917, "Jews flooded into Leningrad and Moscow" (2). According to the Jewish 
Encyclopedia, "hundreds of thousands of Jews moved to Moscow, Leningrad and other 
major centers" (3), "in 1920, 28,000 Jews lived in Moscow - by 1923, about 86,000; 
according to 1926 USSR census, 131,000 and in 1933, 226,500." (4) "Moscow became 
fashionable," they used to say half-seriously in Odessa. 

Lurie-Larin, a fanatical and zealous Bolshevik leader during "War Communism" writes that in 
the first years not less than a million Jews left their settlements; in 1923 about half of 
Ukraine's Jews lived in large cities, pouring as well into parts of Russia formerly off-limits to 
Jews (so called "prohibited provinces") from Ukraine and Byelorussia, into Transcaucasia and 
Central Asia. The magnitude of this flow was half a million, and four-fifth of them settled in 
RSFSR. One in five of the Jewish migrants went to Moscow (5). 

M. Agursky considers Larin's numbers to be substantially undercounted and points out that 
this demographic change affected interests important to the Russian population (6). 

During "War Communism" with its ban on private trade and limitations on craftsmen and on 
those of certain "social origins" there arose a new social category - the "deprived" (deprived 
of civil rights). "Many Jews were deprived of civil rights and numbered among the 
"deprived" ."Still, the "migration of the Jewish population from Byelorussia into the interior 
of the USSR, mainly to Moscow and Leningrad" did not slow (7). The new arrivals joined 
relatives or co-ethnics who offered communal support. 

According to the 1926 USSR census, 2,211,000 or 83% of the Jewish population lived in cities 
and towns. 467,000 lived in rural districts. Another 300,000 did not identify themselves as 
Jews and these were practically all city dwellers. About five out of six Jews in the USSR were 


urban dwellers, constituting up to 23% and 40% of the urban population in Ukraine and 
Byelorussia respectively (8). 

Most striking in the provincial capitals and major cities was the flow of Jews into the 
apparatus of the Soviet government. Ordzhonikidze in 1927 at the 15th Communist Party 
Congress reported on the "national make up of our party". By his statistics Jews constituted 
11.8% of the Soviet government of Moscow; 22.6% in Ukraine (30.3% in Kharkov, the 
capital); 30.6% in Byelorussia (38.3% in Minsk). If true, then the percentage of Jews in urban 
areas about equaled that of Jews in the government. 

Solomon Schwartz, using data from the work of Lev Singer maintained that the percentage 
of Jews in the Soviet government was about the same as their percentage of the urban 
population (and it was significantly lower in the Bolshevik party itself (10)). Using 
Ordzhonikidze's data, Jews at 1.82% of the population by 1926 were represented in the 
Apparatus at about 6.5 times their proportion in the population at large. 

Its easyto underestimate the impact of the sudden freedom from pre-revolutionary limits 
on civil rights: "Earlier, power was not accessible to Jews at all and now they had more 
access to power than anyone else" according to I. Bikerman (11). This sudden change 
provoked a varied reaction in all strata of society. S. Schwartz writes "from the mid-twenties 
there arose a new wave of anti-Semitism" which was "not related to the old anti-Semitism, 
nor a legacy of the past"". "It is an extreme exaggeration to explain it as originating with 
backwards workers from rural areas as anti-Semitism generally was not a fact of life in the 
Russian countryside." No, "It was a much more dangerous phenomenon." It arose in the 
middle strata of urban society and reached the highest levels of the working class which, 
before the revolution, had remained practically untouched by the phenomenon. "It reached 
students and members of the communist party and the Komsomol and, even earlier, local 
government in smaller provincial towns" where "an aggressive and active anti-Semitism took 
hold" (12). 

The Jewish Encyclopedia writes that from the beginning of the 20th century "though official 
Soviet propaganda writes that anti-Semitism in the latter part of the 20?s was a "legacy of 
the past", "the facts show that, it arose mainly as a result of colliding social forces in large 
cities." It was fanned by the "widely held opinion that power in the country had been seized 
by Jews who formed the nucleus of the Bolsheviks." Bikerman wrote with evident concern in 
1923 that "the Jew is in all corners and on all levels of power." "The Russian sees him as a 
ruler of Moscow, at the head of the capital on Neva, and at the head of the Red Army, a 
perfected death machine. He sees that St. Vladimir Prospect has been renamed Nakhimson 
Prospect... The Russian sees the Jew as judge and hangman; he sees Jews at every turn, not 
only among the communists, but among people like himself, everywhere doing the bidding 
of Soviet power" not surprising, the Russian, comparing present with past, is confirmed in his 
idea that power is Jewish power, that it exists for Jews and does the bidding of Jews" (14). 


No less visible than Jewish participation in government was the suddenly created new order 
in culture and education. 

The new societal inequality was not so much along the lines of nationality as it was a matter 
of town versus country. The Russian reader needs no explanation of the advantages 
bestowed by Soviet power from the 20's to the 80's on capital cities when compared to the 
rest of the country. One of the main advantages was the level of education and range of 
opportunities for higher learning. Those established during the early years of Soviet power in 
capital cities assured for their children and grandchildren future decades of advantages, vis a 
vis those in the country. The enhanced opportunities in post-secondary education and 
graduate education meant increased access to the educated elite. Meanwhile, from 1918 
the ethnic Russian intelligentsia was being pushed to the margins. 

In the 20's students already enrolled in institutions of higher learning were expelled based 
on social origins policy. Children of the nobility, the clergy, government bureaucrats, military 
officers, merchants, even children of petty shop keepers were expelled. Applicants from 
these classes and children of the intelligentsia were denied entry to institutions of higher 
learning in the years that followed. As a "nationality repressed by the Tsar's regime," Jews 
did not receive this treatment. Despite "bourgeois origin," the Jewish youth was freely 
accepted in institutions of higher learning. Jews were forgiven for not being proletarian. 

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, "with the absence of limitations based upon 
nationality for entry to institutions of higher learning, Jews came to make up 15.4% of all 
university students in the USSR, almost twice their proportion of the urban population at 
large" (15). Further, Jews "owing to a high level of motivation" quickly bypassed the 
unprepared "proletarian" factory workers who had been pushed forward in the education 
system, and proceeded unhindered into graduate school. In the 20's and 30's and for a long 
time after, Jews were a disproportionately large part of the intelligentsia. 

According to G. Aronson, wide access to higher and specialized education led to the 
formation of cadres of doctors, teachers and particularly engineers and technical workers 
among Jews, which naturally led to university faculty posts in the expanding system of 
higher education (16) and in the widely proliferating research institutions. In the beginning 
of 1920's, the post of "the State Chairof Science" was occupied not by a scientist but a 
Bolshevik official, Mandelshtam-Lyadov (17). 

Even sharper changes gripped the economic life of the country. Bukharin publicly announced 
at a Communist Party conference in 1927 that "during War Communism, we purged the 
Russian petty and middle bourgeoisie along with leading capitalists." When the economy 
was later opened up to free trade "petty and middle Jewish bourgeoisie took the place of 
the Russian bourgeoisie... and roughly the same happened with our Russian intelligentsia 
which bucked and sabotaged our efforts... Its place has been taken in some areas by the 
Jewish intelligentsia". Moreover, Jewish bourgeousie and intelligentsia are concentrated in 


our central regions and cities, where they moved in from western provinces and southern 
towns." Here "even in the Party ranks one often encounters anti-Semitic tendencies." 
"Comrades, we must wage a fierce battle against anti-Semitism" (18). 

Bukharin described a situation that was obvious to all. Unlike Russian bourgeosie, the Jewish 
bourgeoisie was not destroyed. The Jewish merchant, much less likely to be damned as a 
"man of the past," found defenders. Relatives or sympathizers in the Soviet Apparatus... 
warned about pending arrests or seizures. And if he lost anything - it was just capital, not life 
Cooperation was quasi-official through the Jewish Commissariat at the Sovnarkom. The Jews 
until now had been "a repressed people" and that meant, naturally, they needed help. Larin 
explained the destruction of the "Russian bourgeoisie" as a "correction of the injustice that 
existed under the Tsars before the Revolution" (19). 

When NEP (New Economic Policy) was crushed, the blow fell with less force against Jewish 
NEPmen owing to connections in Soviet ruling circles. 

Bukharin had been speaking in answer to a remarkable speech by Prof. Y.V. Klyutchnikov, a 
publicist and a former Kadet [Translator's note: Constitutional Democrat]. In December 1926, 
the professor spoke at a "meeting on the Jewish question" at the Moscow Conservatory. 
"We have isolated expressions of hooliganism... Its source is the hurt national feelings of 
Russians. The February Revolution established the equality of all citizens of Russia, including 
Jews. The October Revolution went further with the Russian nation proclaiming self- 
renunciation. A certain imbalance has developed with respect to the proportion of the 
Jewish population in the country as a whole and the positions they have temporarily 
occupied in the cities. We are in our own cities and they arrive and squeeze us out. When 
Russians see Russian women, elders and children freezing on the street 9 to 11 hours a day, 
getting soaked by the rain in their tents at the market and when they see relatively warm 
covered Jewish kiosks with bread and sausage they are not happy. These phenomena are 
catastrophic... and must be considered... There is a terrible disproportion in the government 
structure, in daily life and in other areas... We have a housing crisis in Moscow - masses of 
people are crowding into areas not fit for habitation and at the same time people see others 
pouring in from other parts of the country taking up housing. These arrivals are Jews. A 
national dissatisfaction is rising and a defensiveness andfearof other nationalities. We must 
not close our eyes to that. A Russian speaking to a Russian will say things that he will not say 
to a Jew. Many are saying that there are too many Jews in Moscow. This must be dealt with, 
but don't call it anti-Semitism" (20). 

But Larin regarded Klyutchnikov's speech as a manifestation of anti-Semitism, saying "this 
speech serves as an example of the good nature of Soviet power in its battle againstanti- 
Semitism because Klyutchnikov was roundly criticized by speakers who followed at the same 
meeting, but no "administrative measures" were taken against him" (21). (Here it is, the 
frustration of the communist activist!) Agursky writes: "one would expect repression to 
swiftly follow for such a speech in the 20's and 30's," but Klyutchnikov got off. Maybe he 


received secret support from some quarters (22)? (But why look for secret causes? It would 
have been too much of a scandal to punish such a famous publicist, who just returned from 
abroad and could have harmed a reverse migration that was so important for Soviet 
authorities [Translator's note: "reverse migration" - return of people who emigrated from 
Russia during previous period of revolutions and Civil War].) 

The 20's were spoken of as the "conquest" by the Jews of Russian capital cities and industrial 
centers where conditions were better. As well, there was a migration to the better areas 
within the cities. G. Fedotov describes Moscow at that time: "The revolution deformed its 
soul, turning it inside out, emptying out its mansions, and filling them with a foreign and 
alien people" (23). A Jewish joke from the era: "Even from Berdichevand even the very old 
come to Moscow: they want to die in a Jewish city" (24). 

In a private letter V.I. Vernadsky [Translator's note: a prominent Russian polymath] in 1927 
writes: "Moscow now is like Berdichev; the power of Jewry is enormous - and anti-Semitism 
(including in communist circles) is growing unabated" (25). 

Larin: "We do not hide figures that demonstrate growth of the Jewish population in urban 
centers," it is completely unavoidable and will continue into the future." He forecasted the 
migration from Ukraine and Byelorussia of an additional 600,000 Jews. "We can't look upon 
this as something shameful, that the party would silence... we must create a spirit in the 
working class so that anyone who gives a speech against the arrival of Jews in Moscow 
would be considered a counter-revolutionary" (26). 

And for counter-revolutionaries there is nine grams of lead (27) - that much is clear. 

But, what to do about "anti-Semitic tendencies" even in "our party circles" was a concern in 
the upper levels of the party. 

According to official data reported in Pravda in 1922, Jews made up 5.2% of the party (28). 
M. Agursky: "But their actual influence was considerably more. In that same year at the 11th 
Communist Party Congress Jews made up 14.6% of the voting delegates, 18.3% of the non- 
voting delegates and 26% of those elected to the Central Committee at the conference" (29). 
(Sometimes one accidentally comes upon such data: a taciturn memoirist from Moscow 
opens Pravda in July, 1930 and notes: "The portrait of the 25-member Presidium of the 
Communist Party included 11 Russians, 8 Jews, 3 from the Caucasus, and 3 Latvians" (30).) In 
the large cities, close to areas of the former Pale of Settlement, the following data: In the 
early 20's party organizations in Minsk, Gomel and Vitebsk in 1922 were, respectively, 35.8%, 
21.1%, and 16.6% Jewish, respectively (31). Larin notes: "Jewish revolutionaries play a bigger 
part than any others in revolutionary activity" thanks to their qualities, Jewish workers often 
find it easierto rise to positions of local leadership" (32). 

In the same issue of Pravda, it is noted that Jews at5.2% of the Party were in the third place 
after Russians (72%) and Ukrainians (5.9%), followed by Latvians (2.5%) and then Georgians, 


Tatars, Poles and Byelorussians. Jews had the highest rate of per capita party membership - 
7.2% of Jews were in the party versus 3.8% for Great Russians (33). 

M. Agursky correctly notes that in absolute numbers the majority of communists were, of 
course, Russians, but "the unusual role of Jews in leadership was dawning on the Russians" 
(34). It was just too obvious. 

For instance, Zinoviev "gathered many Jews around himself in the Petersburg leadership." 
(Agursky suggests this was what Larin was referring to in his discussion of the photograph of 
the Presidium of Petrograd Soviet in 1918 in his book (35)). By 1921 the preponderance of 
Jews in Petrograd CP organization... "was apparently so odious that the Politburo, reflecting 
on the lessons of Kronshtadt and the anti-Semitic mood of Petrograd, decided to send 
several ethnic Russian communists to Petrograd, though entirely for publicity purposes." So 
Uglanovtook the place of Zorin-Homberg as head of Gubkom; Komarov replaced Trilisser 
and Semyonov went to the Cheka. But Zinoviev "objected to the decision of Politboro and 
fought the new group" - and as a result Uglanov was recalled from Petrograd and "a purely 
Russian opposition group formed spontaneously in the Petrograd organization," a group, 
"forced to counter the rest of the organization whose tone was set by Jews" (36). 

But not only in Petrograd - at the 12th Communist Party Congress (1923) three out of six 
Politburo members were Jewish. Three out of seven were Jews in the leadership of the 
Komsomol and in the Presidium of the all-Russia Conference in 1922 (37). This was not 
tolerable to other leading communists and, apparently, preparations were begun for an anti- 
Jewish revolt at the 13th Party Congress (May 1924). "There is evidence that a group of 
members of CK was planning to drive leading Jews from the Politburo, replacing them with 
Nogin, Troyanovsky and others and that only the death of Nogin interrupted the plot." His 
death, "literally on the eve of the Congress", resulted from an "unsuccessful and 
unnecessary operation for a stomach ulcer by the same surgeon who dispatched Frunze with 
an equally unneeded operation a year and a half later" (38). 

The Cheka-GPU had second place in terms of real power after the Party. A researcher of 
archival material, whom we quoted in Chapter 16, reports interesting statistics on the 
composition of the Cheka in 1920, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925 and 1927 (39). He concludes that 
the proportion of national minorities in the apparatus gradually fell towards the mid-20's. 
"In the OGPU as a whole, the proportion of personnel from a national minority fell to 30- 
35% and to 40-45% for those in leadership." (These figures contrast with 50% and 70% 
respectively during the "Red Terror.") However, "we observe a decline in the percentage of 
Latvians and an increase in the percentage of Jews". The 20's was a period of significant 
influx of Jewish cadres into the organs of the OGPU". The author explains this: "Jews strived 
to utilize capabilities not needed in the pre-revolutionary period. With the increasing 
professionalism and need for organization, Jews, better than others, were able to meet the 
needs of OGPU and the new conditions." For example, three of Dzerzhinsky's four assistants 
were Jews - G. Yagoda, V.L. Gerson, and M.M. Lutsky (40). 


In the 20's and 30's, the leading Chekists circled over the land like birds of prey flying quickly 
from cliff to cliff. From the top ranks of the Central Asian GPU off to Byelorussia and from 
Western Siberia to the North Caucasus, from Kharkov to Orenburg and from Orel to Vinnitza 
- there was a perpetual whirlwind of movement and change. And the lonely voices of those 
surviving witnesses could only speak much later, without precise reference to time, of the 
executioners whose names flashed by them. The personnel, the deeds and the power of the 
Cheka were completely secret. 

For the 10th anniversary of the glorious Cheka we read in a newspaper a formal order signed 
by the omnipresent Unshlicht (from 1921 -deputy head of Cheka, from 1923 - member of 
Revvoensovet, from 1925 - Deputy Narkom of the Navy (41)). In it, Yagoda was rewarded for 
"particularly valuable service... for sacrifice in the battle with counter revolution"; also given 
awards were M. Trilisser (distinguished for his "devotion to the revolution and untiring 
persecution of its enemies") as well as 32 Chekists who had not been before the public until 
then. Each of them with the flick of a finger could destroy anyone of us! Among them were 
Jakov Agranov (for the work on all important political trials - and in the future he will 
orchestrate the trials of Zinoviev, Kamenev, the "Industrial Party Trial," and others (42)), 
Zinovy Katznelson, Matvey Berman (transferred from Central Asia to the Far East) and Lev 
Belsky (transferred from the Far East to Central Asia). 

There were several new names: LevZalin, Lev Meyer, Leonid Bull (dubbed "warden of 
Solovki"), Simeon Gendin, Karl Pauker. Some were already known to only a few, but now the 
people would get to know them. In this jubilee newspaper (43) issue we can find a large 
image of slick Menzhinsky with his faithful deputy Yagoda and a photograph of Trilisser. 
Shortly afterward, another twenty Chekists were awarded with the order of the Red Banner, 
and again we see a motley company of Russians, Latvians, and Jews, the latter in the same 
proportions -around one-third. 

Some of them were avoiding publicity. Simeon Schwartz was director of the Ukrainian Cheka. 
A colleague of his, Yevsei Shirvindt directed the transport of prisoners and convoys 
throughout the USSR. Naturally, such Chekists as Grimmeril Heifetz (a spy from the end of 
the Civil War to the end of WWII) and Sergei Spigelglas (a Chekistfrom 1917 who, through 
his work as a spy, rose to become director of the Foreign Department of the NKVD and a 
two-time recipient of the honorary title of "distinguished chekist") worked out of the public 
eye. Careers of others, like Albert Stromin-Stroyev, were less impressive (he "conducted 
interrogations of scientists during the "Academy trial" in 1929-31" (44)). 

David Azbel remembers the Nakhamkins, a family of HasidicJews from Gomel. (Azbel 
himself was imprisoned because of snitching by the younger family member, Lev.) "The 
revolution threw the Nakhamkins onto the crest of a wave. They thirsted for the revenge on 
everyone - aristocrats, the wealthy, Russians, few were left out. This was their path to self- 
realization. It was no accident that fate led the offspring of this glorious clan to the Cheka, 
GPU, NKVD and the prosecutor's office. To fulfill their plans, the Bolsheviks needed "rabid" 


people and this is what they got with the Nakhamkins. One member of this family, Roginsky, 
achieved "brilliant heights" as Deputy Prosecutor for the USSR "but during the Stalinist 
purges was imprisoned, as were many, and became a cheap stool pigeon... the others were 
not so well known. They changed their last name to one more familiarto the Russian earand 
occupied high places in the Organs" (45). 

Unshlictdid not change his name to one "more familiarto the Russian ear." See, this Slavic 
brother became truly a "father of Russians": a warplane built with funds of farmer mutual 
aid societies (that is, - on the last dabs of money extorted from peasants) was named after 
him. No doubt, farmers could not even pronounce his name and likely thought that this Pole 
was a Jew. Indeed, this reminds us that the Jewish issue does not explain the devastation of 
revolution, albeit it places a heavy hue on it. As it was also hued by many other 
unpronounceable names - from Polish Dzerzhinsky and Eismontto Latvian Vatsetis. And 
what if we looked into the Latvian issue? Apart from those soldiers who forced the 
dissolution of the Russian Constituent Assembly and who later provided security for the 
Bolshevik leaders during the entire Civil War, we find many high-placed Latvian Bolsheviks. 
Gekker suppressed the uprising in Yaroslavl Guberniya. Among others, there were Rudzutak, 
Eikhe, Eikhmans from Solovki, M. Karklin, A. Kaktyn, R. Kisis, V. Knorin, A. Skundre (one of 
those who suppressed the Tambov Uprising); Chekists Petere, Latsis, and an "honorary 
Chekist" Lithuanian I. Yusis. This thread can lead directly to 1991 (Pugo...) And what if we 
separate Ukrainians from Russians (as demanded by the Ukrainians these days)? We will find 
dozens of them at the highest posts of Bolshevik hierarchy, from its conception to the very 

No, power was not Jewish power then. Political power was internationalist - and its ranks 
were to the large extent Russian. But under its multi-hued internationalism it united in an 
anti-Russian front against a Russian state and Russian traditions. 

In view of the anti-Russian orientation of power and the multinational makeup of the 
executioners, why, in Ukraine, Central Asia and the Baltics did the people think it was 
Russians who had enslaved them? Because they were alien. A destroyer from one's own 
nation is much closerthan a destroyer from an alien tribe. And while it is a mistake to 
attribute the ruin and destruction to nationalist chauvinism, at the same time in Russia in the 
20's the inevitable question hanged in the air that was posed many year later by Leonard 
Schapiro: why was it "highly likely that anyone unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of 
the Cheka would go before a Jewish interrogator or be shot by a Jew." (46)? 

Yet the majority of modern writers fail to even acknowledge these questions. Often Jewish 
authors thoughtlessly and meticulously comply and publish vast lists of Jewish leadership of 
the time. For example, see how proudly the article "Jews in Kremlin" (47), published in 
journal Alef, provides a list of the highest Soviet officials - Jews for 1925. It listed eight out of 
twelve directors of Gosbank. The same level of Jewish representation was found among top 
trade union leaders. And it comments: "We do not fear accusations. Quite opposite - it is 


active Jewish participation in governing the state that helps to understand why state affairs 
were better then than now, when Jews at top positions are as rare as hen's teeth. 
Unbelievably, that was written in 1989. 

Regarding the army, one Israeli scholar (48) painstakingly researched and proudly published 
a long list of Jewish commanders of the Red Army, during and after the Civil War. Another 
Israeli researcher published statistics obtained from the 1926 census to the effect that while 
Jews made up 1.7% of the male population in the USSR, they comprised 2.1% of the combat 
officers, 4.4% of the command staff, 10.3% of the political leadership and 18.6% of military 
doctors (49). 

And what did the West see? If the government apparatus could operate in secret under the 
communist party, which maintained its conspiratorial secrecy even after coming to power, 
diplomats were on view everywhere in the world. At the first diplomatic conferences with 
Soviets in Geneva and the Hague in 1922, Europe could not help but notice that Soviet 
delegations and their staff were mostly Jewish (50). Due to the injustice of history, a long 
and successful careerof Boris Yefimovich Stern is now completely forgotten (he wasn't even 
mentioned in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (GSE) of 1971). Yet he was the second most 
important assistant to Chicherin during Genoa Conference, and later at Hague Conference, 
and still later he led Soviet delegation during longstanding demilitarization negotiations. He 
was also a member of Soviet delegation at League of Nations. Stern was ambassador in Italy 
and Finland and conducted delicate negotiations with the Finns before the Soviet-Finnish 
war. Finally, from 1946 to 1948 he was the head of the Soviet delegation at UN. And he used 
to be a longstanding lecturer at the High Diplomatic School (atone point during "anti- 
cosmopolitan" purges he was fired but in 1953 he was restored at that position). 

An associate of Chicherin, Leon Haikis worked for many years inthe Narkomat of the Foreign 
Affairs (NKID). In 1937 he was sent to a warmer place as ambassadorto the embattled 
Republican government of Spain (where he directed the Republican side during the Civil 
War), but was arrested and removed. Fyodor Rotshtein founded the communist party in 
Great Britain in 1920 and in that very year he was a member of the Soviet delegation in 
negotiations with England! Two years later he represented RSFSR at the Hague conference 
(51). (As Litvinov's right hand man he independently negotiated with ambassadors to Russia 
in important matters; until 1930 he was in the Presidium of NKID and for 30 years before his 
death, a professor at the Moscow State University.) 

And on the other side of the globe, in southern China, M. Gruzenberg-Borodin had served 
for 5 years when the December 1927 Canton Rebellion against the Kuomintang broke out. It 
is now recognized that the revolt was prepared by our Vice Consul, Abram Hassis, who, at 
age of 33 was killed by Chinese soldiers. Izvestia ran several articles with the obituaries and 
the photographs of "comrades in arms" under Kuibishev, comparing the fallen comrade with 
highly distinguished communists like Furmanov and Frunze (52). 


In 1922 Gorky told the academic Ipatiev that 98% of the Soviet trade mission in Berlin was 
Jewish (53) and this probably was not much of an exaggeration. A similar picture would be 
found in other Western capitals where the Soviets were ensconced. The "work" that was 
performed in early Soviet trade missions is colorfully described in a book by G.A. Solomon 
(54), the first Soviet trade representative in Tallinn, Estonia - the first European capital to 
recognize the Bolsheviks. There are simply no words to describe the boundless theft by the 
early Bolsheviks in Russia (along with covert actions against the West) and the corruption of 
soul these activities brought to their effecters. 

Shortly after Gorky's conversation with Ipatiev he "was criticized in the Soviet press for an 
article where he reproached the Soviet government for its placement of so many Jews in 
positions of responsibility in government and industry. He had nothing against Jews perse, 
but, departing from views he expressed in 1918, he thought that Russians should be in 
charge" (55). And Pravda'stwin publication DarAmos (Pravda in Yiddish) objected strongly: 
Do they (i.e. Gorky and Shalom Ash, the interviewer) really want for Jews to refuse to serve 
in any government position? For them to get out of the way? That kind of decision could 
only be made by counter-revolutionaries or cowards" (56). 

In Jews in the Kremlin, the author, using the 1925 Annual Report of NKID, introduces leading 
figures and positions in the central apparatus. "In the publishing arm there is not one non- 
Jew" and further, with evident pride, the author "examines the staff in the Soviet consulates 
around the world and finds there is not one country in the world where the Kremlin has not 
placed a trusted Jew" (57). 

If he was interested, the author of Alef could find no small number of Jews in the Supreme 
Court of RSFSR of 1920's, in the Procurator's office and RKI. Here we can find already familiar 
A. Goikhbarg, who, after chairing the Lesser Sovnarcom, worked out the legal system for the 
NEP era, supervised development of Civil Code of RSFSR and was director of the Institute of 
Soviet Law (59). 

It is much harder to examine lower, provincial level authorities, and not only because of their 
lower exposure to the press but also due to their rapid fluidity, and frequent turnover of 
cadres from post to post, from region to region. This amazing early Soviet shuffling of 
personnel might have been caused either by an acute deficit of reliable men as in in the 
Lenin's era or by mistrust (and the "tearing" of a functionary from the developed 
connections) in Stalin's times. 

Here are several such career "trajectories". 

Lev Maryasin was Secretary of Gubkom of Orel Guberniya, later -chair of Sovnarkhoz of 
Tatar Republic, later - head of a department of CKof Ukraine, later - chair of board of 
directors of Gosbankof USSR, and later - Deputy Narkom of Finances of USSR. Moris 
Belotsky was head of Politotdel of the First Cavalry Army (a very powerful position), 


participated in suppression of the Kronshtadt Uprising, later- in NKID, then later- the First 
Secretary of North Ossetian Obkom, and even later was First Secretary of CKof Kyrgyzstan. 

A versatile functionary Grigory Kaminsky was Secretary of Gubkom of Tula Guberniya, later - 
Secretary of CK of Azerbaijan, later -chair of Kolkhozcenter, and later-Narkom of Health 
Care Service. 

Abram Kamensky was Narkom of State Control Commission of Donets k-Krivoy Rog Republic, 
later -Deputy Narkom of Nationalities of RSFSR, later -Secretary of Gubkom of Donetsk, 
later served in Narkomat of Agriculture, then - director of Industrial Academy, and still later 
he served in the Narkomat of Finances (60). 

There were many Jewish leaders of the Komsomol. 

Ascendant career of Efim Tzetlin began with the post of the First Chairman of CK RKSM (fall 
of 1918); after the Civil War he become Secretary of CK and Moscow Committee of RKSM, 
since 1922 - a member of executive committee of KIM (Young Communist International), in 
1923-24 - a spy in Germany, later he worked in Secretariat of Executive Committee of 
Communist International, still later- in editorial office of Pravda, and even later he was head 
of Bukharin's secretariat, where this latter post eventually proved fatal for him (61). 

The career of Isaiah Khurgin was truly amazing. In 1917 he was a member of Ukrainian Rada 
[Parliament], served both in the Central and the Lesser chambers and worked on the draft of 
legislation on Jewish autonomy in Ukraine. Since 1920 we see him as a member VKPb, in 
1921 - he was the Trade Commissioner of Ukraine in Poland, in 1923 he represented 
German-American Transport Society in USA, serving as a de facto Soviet plenipotentiary. He 
founded and chaired Amtorg (American Trading Corporation). His future seemed incredibly 
bright but alas at the age of 38 (in 1925) he was drowned in a lake in USA (62). What a life he 

Let's glance at the economy. Moses Rukhimovitch was Deputy Chair of Supreme Soviet of 
the National Economy. Ruvim Levin was a member of Presidium of Gosplan (Ministry of 
Economic Planning) of USSR and Chairof Gosplan of RSFSR (later- Deputy Narkom of 
Finances of USSR). Zakhary Katzenelenbaum was inventor of the governmental "Loan for 
Industrialization" in 1927 (and, therefore, of all subsequent "loans"). He also was one of the 
founders of Soviet Gosbank. Moses Frumkin was Deputy Narkom of Foreign Trade from 1922 
but in fact he was in charge of the entire Narkomat. He and A. I. Vainstein were long -serving 
members of the panel of Narkomat of Finances of USSR. Vladimirov-Sheinfinkel was Narkom 
of Provand of Ukraine, later-Narkom of Agriculture of Ukraine, and even later he served as 
Narkom of Finances of RSFSR and Deputy Narkom of Finances of USSR (63). 

If you are building a mill, you are responsible for possible flood. A newspaper article by Z. 
Zangvi I describes celebratory jubilee meeting of the Gosbank board of directors in 1927 (five 
years after introduction of chervonets [a former currency of the Russian Empire and Soviet 


Union] and explains the importance of chervonets and displays a group photograph. The 
article lauds Sheinman, the chairman of the board, and Katzenelenbaum, a member of the 
board (64). Sheinman's signature was reproduced on every Soviet chervonets and he 
simultaneously held the post of Narkom of Domestic Commerce (from 1924). And hold your 
breath, my reader! He didn't return from a foreign visit in 1929 (65)! He preferred to live in 
bloody capitalism! 

Speaking of mid-level Soviet institutions, the well-known economist and professor B. D. 
Brutskus asks: "Did not the revolution open up new opportunities for the Jewish population?" 
Among these opportunities would be government service, "...more than anything it is 
obvious the large numbers of Jews in government, particularly in higher posts," and "most of 
the Jewish government employees come from the higher classes not the Jewish masses." 
But, upperclass Jews, required to serve the Soviet government did not gain, but lost in 
comparison with what they would have had in their own businesses orfreely pursuing 
professions. As well, those who moved through the Soviet hierarchy had to display the 
utmost of tact to avoid arousing jealousy and dissatisfaction. A large number of Jewish public 
servants, regardless of talent and qualities, would not lessen anti-Semitism, but would 
strengthen it among other workers and among the intelligentsia." He maintained "there are 
many Jewish public servants particularly in the commissariats devoted to economic functions" 

Larin put it more simply: "the Jewish intelligentsia in large numbers served the victorious 
revolution readily" realizing "access to previously denied government service" (67). 

G. Pomerantz, speaking 50 years later justified this: "history dragged Jews into the 
government apparatus," ... Jews had nowhere else to go besides to government institutions," 
including the Cheka (68) as we commented earlier. The Bolsheviks also "had no other place 
to go - the Jewish Tribune from Paris explains "there were so many Jews in various Soviet 
functions" because of the need for literate, sober bureaucrats" (69). 

However one can read in Jewish World, a Parisian publication, that: "there is no denying that 
a large percentage of Jewish youth from lower social elements — some completely hopeless 
failures, were drawn to Bolshevism by the sudden prospect of power; for others it was the 
'world proletarian revolution' and for still others it was a mixture of adventurous idealism 
and practical utilitarianism (70). 

Of course not all were "drawn to Bolshevism." There were large numbers of peaceful Jews 
whom the revolution crushed. However, the life in the towns of the former Pale of 
Settlement was not visible to ordinary non-Jewish person. Instead the average person saw, 
as described by M. Heifetz, "arrogant, self-confident and self-satisfied adult Jews at ease on 
'red holidays' and 'red weddings'... 'We now sit where Tsars and generals once sat, and they 
sit beneath us'" (71). 


These were not unwaveringly ideological Bolsheviks. The invitation to power was extended 
to "millions of residents from rotting shtetls, to pawn brokers, tavern owners, 
contrabandists, seltzer water salesmen and those who sharpened their wills in the fight for 
survival and their minds in evening study of the Torah and the Talmud. The authorities 
invited them to Moscow, Petrograd and Kiev to take into their quick nervous hands that 
which was falling from the soft, pampered hands of the hereditary intelligentsia - everything 
from the finances of a great power, nuclear physics and the secret police. 

They couldn't resist the temptation of Esau, the less so since, in addition to a bowl of potage, 
they were offered the chance to build the promised land, that is, communism" (72). There 
was "a Jewish illusion that this was their country" (73). 

Many Jews did not enter the whirlwind of revolution and didn't automatically join the 
Bolsheviks, but the general national inclination was one of sympathy for the Bolshevik cause 
and a feeling that life would now be incomparably better. "The majority of Jews met the 
revolution, not with fear, but with welcome arms" (74). In the early 20's the Jews of 
Byelorussia and Ukraine were a "significant source of support for the centralization of power 
in Moscow over and against the influence of regional power" (75). Evidence of Jewish 
attitudes in 1923 showed the overwhelming majority considered Bolshevism to be a lesser 
evil and that if the Bolsheviks lost power it would be worse for them (76). 

"Now, a Jew can command an army!... These gifts alone were enough to bring Jewish 
support for the communists... The disorder of the Bolshevism seemed like a brilliant victory 
for justice and no one noticed the complete suppression of freedom" (77). Large number of 
Jews who did not leave after the revolution failed to foresee the bloodthirstiness of the new 
government, though the persecution, even of socialists, was well underway. The Soviet 
government was as unjust and cruel then as it was to be in '37 and in 1950. But in the 20's it 
did not raise alarm or resistance in the wider Jewish population since its force was aimed not 
at Jewry. 

* * * 

When Leskov, in a report for the Palensky Commission [Translator's note: a pre-revolution 
government commission], one by one refuted all the presumed consequences for Russians 
from the removal of restrictions on Jewish settlement in Russia he couldn't have foreseen 
the great degree to which Jews would be participating in governing the country and the 
economy in the 20's. 

The revolution changed the entire course of events and we don't know how things would 
have developed without it. 

When in 1920, Solomon Luria [Translator's note: aka Lurie], a professor of ancient history in 
Petrograd, found that in Soviet, internationalist and communist Russia anti-Semitism was 
again on the rise, he was not surprised. On the contrary, "events substantiated the 


correctness of [his] earlierconclusions" that the "cause of anti-Semitism lies with the Jews 
themselves" and currently "with or in spite of the complete absence of legal restrictions on 
Jews, anti-Semitism has erupted with a new strength and reached a pitch that could never 
have been imagined in the old regime" (78). 

Russian (more precisely Little Russian) anti-Semitism of past centuries and the early 20th 
century was blown away with its seeds by the winds of the October revolution. Those who 
joined the Union of the Russian People, those who marched with their religious standa rds to 
smash Jewish shops, those who demanded the execution of Beilis, those who defended the 
royal throne, the urban middle class and those who were with them or who resembled them 
or who were suspected to be like them were rounded up by the thousands and shot or 

Among Russian workers and peasants there was no anti-Semitism before the revolution - 
this is attested to by leaders of the revolution themselves. The Russian intelligentsia was 
actively sympathetic to the cause of the oppressed Jews and children of the post-revolution 
years were raised only in the internationalist spirit. 

Stripped of any strength, discredited and crushed completely, where did anti-Semitism come 

We already described how surprising it was for Jewish-Russian emigres to learn that anti- 
Semitism had not died. They followed the phenomenon in writings of socialists E.D. Kuskova 
and S.S. Maslov, who came from Russia in 1922. 

In an article in the Jewish Tribune, Kuskova states that anti-Semitism in the USSR is not a 
figment of the imagination and that "in Russia, Bolshevism is now blending with Judaism — 
this cannot be doubted." She even met highly cultured Jews who were anti-Semites of the 
new "Soviet type." A Jewish doctor told her: "Jewish Bolshevik administrators ruined the 
excellent relations he had with the local population." A teacher said "children tell me that I 
teach in a Jewish school" because we have "forbidden the teaching of The Ten 
Commandments and driven off the priest." "There are only Jews in the Narkomat of 
Education. In high school circles ('from radical families') there is talk about the 
predominance of the Jews." "Young people, in general are more anti-Semitic than the older 
generation... and one hears everywhere 'they showed theirtrue colors and tortured us'." 
"Russian life is full of this stuff today. But if you ask me who they are, these anti-Semites, 
they are most of the society." "So widespread is this thinking that the political 
administration distributed a proclamation explaining why there are so many Jews in it: 
'When the Russian proletariat needed its own new intelligentsia, mid-level intelligentsia, 
technical workers and administrative workers, not surprisingly, Jews, who, before had been 
in the opposition, came forward to meet them... the occupation by Jews of administrative 
posts in the new Russia is historically inevitable and would have been the natural outcome, 
regardless of whether the new Russia had become KD (Constitutional Democrat), SR 


(Socialist Revolutionary) or proletarian. Any problems with having Aaron Moiseevich 
Tankelevich sitting in the place of Ivan Petrovich Ivanov need to be 'cured'." 

Kuskova parries "in a Constitutional Democratic or SR Russia many administrative posts 
would have been occupied by Jews.... but neither the Kadets nor SR's would have forbidden 
teaching the Ten Commandments and wouldn't have chopped off heads... Stop Tankelevich 
from doing evil and there will be no microbe of anti-Semitism" (79). 

The Jewish emigre community was chilled by Maslov's findings. Here was a tested SR with an 
unassailable reputation who lived through the first four years of Soviet power. "Judeophobia 
is everywhere in Russia today. It has swept areas where Jews were never before seen and 
where the Jewish question never occurred to anyone. The same hatred for Jews is found in 
Vologda, Archangel, in the towns of Siberia and the Urals" (80). He recounts several episodes 
affecting the perception of the simple Russian peasants such as the Tyumen Produce 
Commissar Indenbaum's order to shear sheep for the second time in the season, "because 
the Republic needs wool." (This was prior to collectivization, no less; these actions of this 
commissar caused the Ishim peasant uprising.) The problem arose because it was late in the 
fall and the sheep would die without their coats from the coming winter cold. Maslovdoes 
not name the commissars who ordered the planting of millet and fried sun-flower seeds or 
issued a prohibition on planting malt, but one can conclude they did not come from ordinary 
Russian folk or from the Russian aristocracy or from "yesterday's men." From all this, the 
peasantry could only conclude that the power over them was "Jewish." So too did the 
workers. Several workers' resolutions from the Urals in Feb and March of 1921 sent to the 
Kremlin "complained with outrage of the dominance of the Jews in central and local 
government." "The intelligentsia, of course does not think that Soviet power is Jewish, but it 
has noted the vastly disproportionate role of Jews in authority" when compared to their 
numbers in the population. 

"And if a Jew approaches a group of non-Jews who are freely discussing Soviet reality, they 
almost always change the topic of conversation even if the new arrival is a personal 
acquaintance" (81). 

Maslov tries to understand "the cause of the widespread and bitter hatred of Jews in 
modern Russia" and it seems to him to be the "identification throughout society of Soviet 
power and Jewish power." 

"The expression 'Yid Power' is often used in Russia and particularly in Ukraine and in the 
former Pale of Settlement not as a polemic, but as a completely objective definition of 
power, its content and its politics." "Soviet power in the first place answers the wishes and 
interests of Jews and they are its ardent supporters and in the second place, power resides 
in Jewish hands." 

Among the causes of Judeophobia Maslov notes the "tightly welded ethnic cohesion they 
have formed as a result of their difficult thousands year old history". "This is particularly 


noticeable when it comes to selecting staff at institutions - if the selection process is in the 
hands of Jews, you can bet that the entire staff of responsible positions will go to Jews, even 
if it means removing the existing staff." And often that "preference for their own is displayed 
in a sharp, discourteous manner which is offensive to others." In the Jewish bureaucrat, 
Soviet power manifests more obviously its negative features... the intoxicating wine of 
power is stronger for Jews and goes to their head... I don't know where this comes from," 
perhaps because of the low cultural level of the former pharmacists and shopkeepers. 
Maybe from living earlierwithout full civil rights?" (82). 

The Parisian Zionist journal Sunrise wrote in 1922 that Gorky essentially said that "the 
growth of anti-Semitism is aided by the tactless behavior of the Jewish Bolsheviks 
themselves in many situations." 

That is the blessed truth! 

And Gorky wasn't speaking of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev - he was speaking of the 
typical Jewish communist who occupies a position in the collegia, presidia and petty and 
mid-level Soviet institutions where he comes into contact with large swaths of the 
population. Such individuals occupy leading front-line positions which naturally multiplies 
their number in the mind of the public (83). 

D. Pasmanik comments: "we must admit that many Jews through their own actions provoke 
acute anti-Semitism... all the impudent Jews filling the communist ranks - these pharmacists, 
shopkeepers, peddlers, dropouts and pseudo intellectuals are indeed causing much evil to 
Russia and Jewry" (84). 

"Hardly ever before inside of Russia or outside of Russia have Jews been the subject of such 
an active and concentrated hostility — it has never reached such an intensity nor been so 
widespread. This elemental hostility has been fed by the open and undeniable participation 
of Jews in destructive processes underway in Europe as well as by the tales and 
exaggerations about such participation" (86). "A terrible anti-Semitic mood is taking hold, fed 
exclusively by Bolshevism which continues to be identified with Jewry" (86). 

In 1927 Mikhail Kozakov (shot in 1930 after the "food workers' trial") wrote in a private 
letter to his brother overseas about the "Judeophobic mood of the masses (among non- 
party and party members)... it is no secret that the mass of workers do not love the Jews" 

And Shulgin, after his "secret" trip to the USSR in 1928 says: No one says anymore that anti- 
Semitism is propaganda planted by the "Tsar's government" or an infection limited to the 
"dregs of society"... Geographically it spreads wider each day threatening to engulf all of 
Russia. The main center today seems to be Moscow... anti-Semitism is a new phenomenon in 
Great Russia," but is much more serious than old anti-Semitism in the South (anti-Semitism 


of the South of Russia was traditionally humorous and mitigated by anecdotes about Jews 

Larin brings up an anti-Jewish slogan allegedly used for propaganda purposes by the White 
Guards — "Russians are sent to Narym [Translator's note: a locale in the far north] and Jews 
to the Crimea" [Translator's note: a vacation spot] (89). 

The Soviet authorities eventually became seriously concerned with the rise of anti-Semitism. 
In 1923 the Jewish Tribunewrites, albeit with skepticism, "the Commissariat of Internal 
Affairs has established a commission to study the question of 'protecting the Jews from dark 
forces' " (90). 

In 1926 Kalinin (and other functionaries) received many questions about Jews in letters and 
at meetings. As a result, Larin undertook a study of the problem in a book Jews and anti- 
Semitism in the USSR. From his own reports, queries and interviews (taken, we can presume, 
from communists or communist sympathizers) he enumerates 66 questions from those the 
authorities received, recording them without editing the language. Among these questions 

Where are the Jews in Moscow coming from? 
Why is authority predominantly Jewish? 
How come Jews don't wait in line? 

How do Jews arriving from Berdichev and other cities immediately receive apartments? 
(There is a joke that the last Jew left Berdichev and gave the keys to the city to Kalinin.) 

Why do Jews have money and own their own bakeries, etc? 

Why a re Jews drawn to light work and not to physical labor? 

Why do Jews in government service and in professions sticktogether and help each other 
while Russians do not? 

They do not want to work at everyday jobs, but are concerned only with their careers. 

Why do they not farm even though it is now allowed them? 

Why are Jews given good land in the Crimea while Russians are given inferior land? 

Why is party opposition 76% Jewish? [Translator's note: the opposition to the "general line 
of the party" within the party itself] 

Why did anti-Semitism develop only against Jews and not against other nationalities? 

What should a group agitprop leaderdo when he tries to counter anti-Semitic tendencies in 
his group and no one supports him? 


Larin suspects that these questions were dreamed up and spread among the masses by an 
underground organization of counter-revolutionaries (92)! As we will see later, this is where 
some official explanations came from. But he fixates on the unexpected phenomenon and 
tries to address scientifically the question "How could anti-Semitism take hold in the USSR in 
those strata of society — [factory workers, students], where, before the revolution, it was 
little noted (93)?" His findings were: 

Anti-Semitism among the intelligentsia. 

"Among the intelligentsia anti-Semitism is more developed than in any other group." 
However, he maintains that "dissatisfaction rises not from the large number of Jews, but 
from the fact that Jews presumed to enter into competition with the Russian intelligentsia 
for government jobs." 

"The obvious development of anti-Semitic attitudes among city clerks and workers by 1928 
cannot be explained by excessive numbers of Jews claiming jobs". "Among the intellectual 
professions, anti-Semitic tendencies are felt in the medical sphere and in engineering... The 
army has "good political training" and there is no anti-Semitism there, even though the 
command staff of the Red Army has a significantly higher percentage of Jews than are 
present in the country as a whole" (94). 

Anti-Semitism among the urban bourgeoisie. 

"The root of anti-Semitism is found in urban bourgeois philistinism." But, "the battle against 
anti-Semitism among the bourgeoisie. is mixed in with the question of the destruction of 
the bourgeoisie in general... The anti-Semitism of the bourgeoisie will disappear when the 
bourgeoisie disappears" (95). 

Anti-Semitism in the countryside. 

"We have almost completely pushed out the private trader of the peasant's grain, therefore 
among the peasant masses anti-Semitism is not showing itself and has even weakened 
against its pre-war levels." Now it appears only in those areas where Jews have been 
resettled on the land, allegedly from Kulaks and former landowners (96). 

Anti-Semitism among the working class. 

"Anti-Semitism among the workers has grown noticeably stronger in recent years." By 1929 
there could be no doubt of its existence. Now it occurs with more frequency and intensity 
than a few years ago. It is particularly strong among the "backwards parts of the working 
class" — women and seasonal workers. However, an anti-Semitic mood can be observed 
among a broad spectrum of workers," not only among the "corrupted fringe." And here 
economic competition is not a factor — it arises even where there is no such competition; 
Jews make up only make "only 2.7%" of the working class. In the lower level professional 
organizations they tried to paint over anti-Semitism. Difficulties arise because attempts to 


"hide anti-Semitism" come from the "active proletariat" itself; indeed, anti-Semitism 
originates from the "active proletariat." "In many cases Party members and members of 
Komsomol demonstrate anti-Semitism. Talk of Jewish dominance is particularly widespread, 
and in meetings one hears complaints that the Soviet authority limits itself to battle with the 
Orthodox religion alone." 

What savagery — anti-Semitism among the proletariat?!! How could this occur in the most 
progressive and politically aware class in the world?! La rin finds that it arose because "no 
other means remained for the White Guard to influence the masses besides anti-Semitism." 
Its plan of action moves along "the rails of anti-Semitism" (97). This was a theory that was to 
have frightening consequences. 

Larin's views on the anti-Semitism of the time were to find echoes later in other authors. 

S. Shwartz provides his own variant on anti-Semitism as being the result of a "vulgar 
perception of Jews as the main carriers of the New Economic Policy (NEP)." But he agrees: 
"The Soviet government, not without basis, saw in anti-Semitism a possible tool of the 
counter-revolution" (98). 

In 1968 the author adds: "After the civil war, anti-Semitism began to spread, gripping layers 
of society which were free of this tendency before the revolution" (99). 

Against this it was necessary to engage not in academic discussion but to act energetically 
and forcefully. In May, 1928 the CKof the VKPb issued an Agitprop communication about 
"measures to be taken in the battle with anti-Semitism." (As was often the case in 
implementation of party directives, related documents were not publicized, but circulated 
among party organizations.) The battle to create an atmosphere of intolerance of anti- 
Semitism was to be taken up in educational programs, public reports, lectures, the press, 
radio and school textbooks and finally, authorities were "to apply the strictest disciplinary 
measures to those found guilty of anti-Semitic practices" (100). Sharp newspaper articles 
followed. In Pravda'sarticle by a highly connected Lev Sos novs ky, he incriminates all kinds of 
party and educational officials in anti-Semitism: an official in Kiev "openly fires Jews" with 
"the connivance of the local district party committee"; defamatory a nti -Jewish graffiti is 
widespread etc. From a newspaper article: "with the growing battle against anti-Semitism 
there are demands to solve the problem by increasing repression on those carriers of anti- 
Semitism and on those who protect them." Clearly it was the GPU speaking through the 
language of a newspaper article (101). 

After Larin's report, the issue of anti-Semitism was included into various educational 
curricula, while Larin himself continued to research the ways to overcome anti-Semitism 
decisively. "Until now we were too soft... allowing propaganda to spread... Locally officials 
often do not deal with anti-Semitism as rigorously as they should." Newspapers "should not 
fear to point attention to "the Jewish issue" (to avoid dissemination of anti-Semitism) as it 
only interferes with the fight against counter revolutionary sabotage." "Anti-Semitism is a 


social pathology like alcoholism or vagrancy. Too often when dealing with communists we let 
them off with mere censure. If a person goes to church and gets married, then we exclude 
him without discussion — anti-Semitism is no less an evil." 

"As the USSR develops towards socialism, the prognosis is good that 'Soviet' anti-Semitism 
and the legacy of pre-Soviet relationships will be torn out by the roots. Nevertheless, it is 
absolutely necessary to impose severe controls on intellectual anti-Semitism especially in the 
teaching profession and civil service" (102). 

But the very spirit of the brave Twenties demands stronger language. "The nature of 
modern-day anti-Jewish agitation in the USSR is political and not nationalistic." Agitation 
againstthe Jews is directed not just againstJews, but indirectly againstthe Soviet power." Or 
maybe not so indirect: "anti-Semitism is a means of mobilization against Soviet power." And 
"those againstthe position of Soviet authorities on the Jewish question are againstthe 
working class and for the capitalists." Any talk of " 'Jewish dominance' will be rega rded as 
counterrevolutionary activity againstthe very foundation of the nationalities policy of the 
proletarian revolution... Parts of the intelligentsia, and sometimes the White Guards are 
using anti-Semitism to transmit bourgeois ideology." 

Yes, that's it - a White Guard whispering campaign, clearly there is "planned... agitation by 
secret White Guard organizations." Behind "the philistine anti-Jewish agitation, secret 
monarchist organizations are leading a battle against Soviet power..." And from "the central 
organs of anti-Soviet emigration (including Jewish bankers and Tsarist generals) an ideology 
is transmitted right into our factories proving that anti-Jewish agitation in the USSR is class- 
based, not nationality-based... It is necessary to explain to the masses that encouragement 
of anti-Jewish feelings in essence is an attempt to lay the groundwork for counter-revolution. 
The masses must regard anyone who shows sympathy to anti-Semitism as a secret counter- 
revolutionary or the mouthpiece of a secret monarchist organization." (There are 
conspiracies everywhere!) "The term 'anti-Semite' must take on the same meaning in the 
public mind as the term 'counter-revolutionary' " (103). 

The authorities had seen through everything and named everything for what it was: counter- 
revolution, White Guards, monarchists, White generals and "anyone suspected of being any 
of the above..." 

For the thickheaded, the revolutionary orator elaborates: "The methods to fight anti- 
Semitism are clear." At a minimum, to conduct open investigations and sessions of "people's 
tribunal against anti-Semitism" at local levels under the motto "explanations for the 
backward workers" and "repressions for the malicious." "There is no reason why "Lenin's 
decree" should not apply" (104)) 

Under "Lenin's decree" (that from July 27, 1918) active anti-Semites were to be placed 
outside of the law — that is, to be shot even for agitating for a pogrom, not just for 


participating in one (105). The law encouraged each Jew to registera complaint about any 
ethnic insult visited upon him. 

Now some later author will object that the "July 27 Act" was ultimately not included in the 
law and was not part of the criminal code of 1922. Though the criminal code of 1926 did 
include an article about the "instigation of ethnic hostility and dissension," there were "no 
specific articles about acts of anti-Semitism." This is not convincing. Article 59-7 of the 
Criminal Code ("propaganda or agitation intended to incite national or religious hatred or 
dissension") was sufficient to send one to prison and the article provided for confiscation of 
the property of perpetrators of "widespread disturbances" and, under aggravated 
circumstances (for instance, class origin) - death. Article 59-7 was based on the "RSFSR Penal 
Code" of Feb 26, 1927, which widened the definition of "instigation of national hatred" 
making it equal in seriousness to "dissemination or preparation and storing of literature" 

Storing books! How familiar is that proscription, contained inthe related Iaw58-10! 
[Translator's note: infamous Article 58 of the Penal Code of RSFSR dealt with so-called 
counter-revolutionary and anti-Soviet activities.] 

Many brochures on anti-Semitism were published and "finally, Feb 19, 1929 Pravda devoted 
its lead article to the matter: 'Attention to the battle with anti-Semitism' " (107). A 1929 
resolution of CK of Communist Party of Byelorussia stated that "counter-revolutionary 
nature of anti-Semitic incidents is often ignored" and that organs of justice should "intensify 
the fight, prosecuting both perpetrators of the law and those who inspire them" (108). 

The secretary of the CK of Komsomol said "most dangerous in our conditions are secret anti- 
Semites who hide their anti-Semitic attitudes" (109). Those who are familiarwith Soviet 
language understand: it is necessary to cut off suspected ways of thinking. (This recalls 
Grigory Landau, speaking of Jewish opponents: "They suspect or accuse other groups around 
them of anti-Semitism... Anyone who voices a negative opinion about Jews is accused of 
being an open anti-Semite and others are called secret anti-Semites" (110). 

In 1929, a certain I. Zilberman in Daily Soviet Jurisprudence (no. 4) writes that there were too 
few court trials relating to anti-Semitism in Moscow Province. In the city of Moscow alone 
for the year there were only 34 cases (that is, every 10 days there was a trial for anti- 
Semitism somewhere in Moscow). The Journal of Narkomyust was read as an instruction 
manual for bringing such cases. 

Could the most evil anti-Semite have thought up a better way to identify Jews with Soviet 
power in the opinion of the people? 

It went so far that in 1930 the Supreme Court of RSFSR ruled that Article 59-7 "should not be 
used by members of national minorities seeking redress in conflicts of a personal nature" 


(111). In other words the judicial juggernaut had already been wound up and was running at 
full speed. 


If we look at life of regular, not "commanding", Jewish folk, we see desolation and despair in 
formerly vibrant and thriving shtetls. Jewish Tribune reproduced report by a special official 
who inspected towns and shtetls in the south-west of Russia in 1923, indicating that as the 
most active inhabitants moved into cities, the remaining population of elders and families 
with many children lived to large extent by relying on humanitarian and financial aid from 
America (112). 

Indeed, by the end of the period of "War Communism" (1918-1920) when all trade, or any 
buying and selling, were prohibited under threat of property confiscation and fines, the Jews 
were helped by Jewish charities like Joint through the ail-Russian Public Committee for 
"assistance to victims of pogroms and destitute Jews". Several other charities protected the 
Jewish population later at different times, such as the SC (Society of Craftsmen, which after 
the revolution moved abroad), EKOPO(the Jewish committee for assistance to victims of 
war) and EKO (the Jewish colonizing society). In 1921-22, Soviet-based Jewish charities 
functioned in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Despite intervention and obstacles from YevSeks 
(Jewish communist organizations), "Joint provided Soviet Jews with extensive financial and 
other assistance", whereas SC "was dedicated to establishment and development of Jewish 
industry and agriculture in the south of Ukraine" during first half of 1920's (113). 

The first Soviet census provides insight into Jewish life during the liberalized NEP period. 
Forty percent of Jews were classified as "active" (not dependents). Of those, 28% were 
public servants, 21% -craftsmen, 19% -industry workers (including apprentices), 12%- 
merchants, 9%- peasants, 1%- military men, and 10% were classified as "others". Among 
public servants, Jews were well represented in trade-related occupations. For instance, in 
Moscow business organizations 16% of the clerks were Jews, in credit and trade 
organizations - 13% (30% according to the Jewish Encyclopedia (114)), in public 
organizations - 19%, in fiscal organizations -9%, in Sovdeps - 10%, with virtually no 
presence in police force. The percentages were correspondingly higher in the former Pale of 
Settlement areas, up to 62% in the state trade of Byelorussia, 44%- in Ukraine (77% in 
category of "private state servants"). The flow of Jewish workers into industry was much 
slower than government wished. There were almost no Jews among railroad men and 
miners' they rather preferred the professions of tailor, tanner, typographer, woodworker 
and food-related specialties and other fields of consumer industry. To recruit Jewish workers 
into industry, special professional schools were created with predominantly foreign funding 
from Jewish organizations abroad (115). 

It was the time of NEP, which "improved economic conditions of Jewish population within a 
new, Soviet framework" (116). In 1924 Moscow 75% of the perfume and pharmaceutical 


trade was in Jewish hands, as well as 55% of the manufactured goods trade, 49% of the 
jewelry trade, 39% of the small ware trade, and 36% of the wood-depots. "Starting business 
in a new place, a Jew usually run down prices in private sector to attract clientele" (117). The 
first and most prominent NEPmen often were Jews. To large extent, anger against them 
stemmed from the fact that they utilized the Soviet as well as the market systems: their 
commerce was routinely facilitated by their links and pulls in the Soviet apparatus. 
Sometimes such connections were exposed by authorities as in the case of famous "Paraffin 
Affair" (1922). During 1920's, there were abundant opportunities to buy up belongings of 
oppressed and persecuted "former" people, especially high quality or rare furniture. S. 
Ettinger noted that Jews made a majority of NEPmen and new-riches (118), which was 
supported by impressive list of individuals who "failed to pay state taxes and dues" in 
Izvestia in 1929 (119). 

However, at the end of NEP, authorities launched "a nti -capita list" assault against financiers, 
merchants and manufacturers, many of whom were Jewish. As a result, many Jews turned 
into "Soviet trade servants" and continued working in the same spheres of finance, credit 
and commerce. A steamroller of merchandise and property confiscations, outright state 
robbery and social ostracizing (outclassing people into disenfranchised "lishenets" category) 
was advancing on private commerce. "Some Jewish merchants, attempting to avoid 
discriminating and endlessly increasing taxation, declared themselves as having no 
occupation during the census" (120). Nevertheless "virtually the entire Jewish male 
population in towns and shtetls... passed through the torture chambers of GPU" during the 
campaign of gold and jewelry extortion in the beginning of 1930's (121). Such things would 
be regarded as an impossible nightmare in Czar's Russia. Many Jewish families, to avoid the 
stigma of being "lishenets", moved into large cities. In the end, "only one-fifth of Soviet Jews 
lived in the traditional Jewish settlements by 1930's" (122). 

"Socioeconomic experiments by the Soviet authorities including all kinds of nationalization 
and socialization had not only devastated the middle classes, but also hit badly the small 
merchants and craftsmen" (123). "Due to general lack of merchandise and solvent 
customers as well as low liquidity and exorbitant taxes, many shtetl merchants had no other 
choice but to close down their shops" and while the "most active left for cities", the 
remaining populace has nothing else to do but "aimlessly roam decrepit streets, loudly 
complaining about their fate, people and God". It is apparent that Jewish masses have 
completely lost their economic foundations" (124). It was really like that in many shtetls at 
that time. To address the problem, even special resolution of Sovnarkom was issued in 1929. 

G. Simon, a former emigrant, came to USSR in the end of 1920's as an American 
businessman with a mission "to investigate shortages of Jewish craftsmen in tools". Later, in 
Paris, he published a book with an emotional and ironic title Jews Rule Over Russia. 
Describing the situation with Jewish manufacturing and trade, its oppression and destruction 
by Soviets, he also shares his impressions. Quoting many conversations, the general mood of 


populace is pretty gloomy. "Many bad things, many crimes happen in Russia these days but 
it's better to suppress that blinding hatred"; "they often fear that the revolution will 
inevitably end in the Russian manner, i.e. by mass-murder of Jews". A local Bolshevik-Jew 
suggests that "it's only the revolution that stands between the Jews and those wishing to 
aggrandize Russia by the rape of Jewish women and spilling the blood of Jewish children" 

A well-known economist B. D. Brutskus, who in 1920 provided a damning analysis of the 
socialist economy (he was expelled from the country in 1922 by Lenin), published an 
extensive article "Jewish population under Communist power" inContemporary Notes in 
1928, chronicling the NEP in the former Pale of Settlement areas of Ukraine and Byelorussia. 

The relative importance of private enterprise was declining as even the smallest merchants 
were deprived of their political rights (they became disenfranchised "lishenets" and couldn't 
vote in Soviet elections), and, thus, their civil rights. (In contrast, handcraftsmen still enjoyed 
a certain semblance of rights.) "The fight of Soviet authorities against private enterprise and 
entrepreneurs is in large part a fight against Jewish populace." Because in those days "not 
only almost the entire private city enterprise in Ukraine and Byelorussia was represented by 
Jews, but the Jewish participation in the small capitalist upperclass in capital cities of 
Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kharkov had also became very substantial" (126). 

Brutskus distinguished three periods during the NEP: 1921-23, 1923-25 and 1925-27. 
"Development of private enterprise was least impeded by communists during first two and 
half years when Bolsheviks were still overwhelmed by their economic debacles". "The first 
communist reaction followed between the end of 1923 and the spring of 1925." Wholesale 
and shop trade in the former Pale of Settlement was destroyed, with only small flea market 
trade still permitted." Crafts were "burdened by taxation. Artisans lost their last tools and 
materials (the latter often belonged to their peasant customers) to confiscations." "The 
concept of Jewish equality virtually turned into fiction as two-thirds of Jews lost their voting 

Because YevSek (Jewish section of the communist party) "inherited specific hatred toward 
petty Jewish bourgeoisie cultivated by earlier Jewish socialist parties and saw their own 
purpose infighting it, its policy in the beginning of NEP was substantially different from the 
general party line". During the second part of NEP, the "YevSek attempted to complete the 
dismantling of Jewish bourgeoisie, which began with "War Communism". However, 
information about bleak life of Jewish population in USSR was leaking out into Jewish press 
abroad. "YevSeks attempted to blame that on the Czar's regime which allegedly obstructed 
Jewish participation in productive labor, that is by communist definition, in physical labor. 
And since Jews still prefer "unproductive labor", they inevitably suffer. Soviet authorities has 
nothing to do with it". 


But B ruts kus objected claiming that in reality it was opposite. "The class of Jewish craftsmen 
nearly disappeared with the annihilation of petty Jewish manufacture... Indeed, professional 
the Jewish classes grew and become diversified while excessive numbers of petty Jewish 
middlemen slowly decreased under the Tsar because of the gradual development of ethnic 
Russian enterprise and deepening business connections between the Pale of Settlement and 
inner Russia. But now the Jewish population again was turned into a mass of petty 

During the third period of NEP, from spring of 1925 to autumn of 1926, large tax remissions 
were made for craftsmen and street vendors and village fairs were relieved of taxation while 
activities of state financial inspectors supervising large businesses were brought "under the 
law". The economy and well-being of the Jewish population started to recover rapidly. It was 
a boom for Jewish craftsmen and merchants specializing in agriculture. Petty manufacturing 
grew and "successfully competed for raw materials and resources with state manufacture in 
the western provinces". At the same time, "a new decree granted political (and, therefore, 
certain civil) rights to many Jews". 

The second communist assault on private enterprise, which eventually resulted in the 
dismantling of NEP, began at the end of 1926. "First, private grain trade was prohibited, 
followed by bans on raw skins, oil seeds and tobacco trade... Private mills, creameries, 
tanneries and tobacco houses were expropriated. Fixed prices on shop merchandise were 
introduced in the summer of 1927. Most craftsmen couldn't work because of shortage of 
raw materials" (128). 

The state of affairs intheshtetls of western Russia alarmed international Jewry. For instance, 
Pasmanik wrote in 1922 that Jews as people are doomed to disappear under Bolsheviks and 
that communists reduced all Russian Jewry into a crowd of paupers (128). However, the 
Western public (including Jews) did not want to hear all this. The Westsawthe USSR in good 
light partly because of general left-leaning of European intelligentsia but mainly because the 
world and American Jewry were now confident in bright future and security of Russian Jews 
and skillful Soviet propaganda only deepened this impression. 

Benevolent public opinion was extremely instrumental for Soviet leaders in securing 
Western, and especially American, financial aid, which was indispensable for economical 
recovery aftertheir brave "WarCommunism". As Lenin saidatthe Party Congress in 1921, 
"as the revolution didn't spread to other countries, we should do anything possible to secure 
assistance of big progressive capitalism and for that we are ready to pay hundreds of millions 
and even billions from our immense wealth, our vast resources, because otherwise our 
recovery would take decades" (129). And the business went smoothly as progressive 
capitalism showed no scruples about acquiring Russian wealth. The first Soviet international 
bank, Roskombank, was founded in 1922. It was headed by the already mentioned Olof 
Aschberg (who was reliably delivering aid to Lenin during entire revolutionary period) and by 
former Russian private bankers (Shlezinger, Kalashkin and Ternovsky). There was also Max 


May of Morgan Guaranty Trust in the US who was of great assistance to Soviets. Now they 
developed a scheme allowing Roskombank to directly purchase goods in US, despite the 
futile protests from the Secretary of State Charles Hughes, who asserted that this kind of 
relations meant a de-facto recognition of Soviet regime. A Roskombank Swedish adviser, 
professor G. Kassel, said that it is reckless to leave Russia with all her resources alone (130). 

Concessioners flocked into USSR where they were very welcome. Here we see Lenin's 
favorite, Armand Hammer, who in 1921 decided "to help rebuild Ural industry" and 
procured a concession on asbestos mines at Alapayevsk. Lenin mentioned in 1921 that 
Hammer's father will provide "two million stones of bread on very favorable terms (5%) in 
exchange for Ural jewelry to be sold in America" (131). And Hammer shamelessly exported 
Russian art treasures in exchange for the development of pencil manufacturing. (Later, in the 
times of Stalin and Khrushchev, Hammer frequented Moscow, continuing to export Russian 
cultural treasures (e.g., church utensils, icons, paintings, china, etc. in huge volumes.) 

However, in 1921-22 large sums were donated by American Jewry and distributed in Russia 
by the American Relief Administration (ARA) for assistance to the victims of "bloody 
pogroms, for the rescue of towns in the South of Russia and for the peasantry of Volga 
Region". Many ARA associates were Jews (132). 

* * * 

Another novel idea from the 20's - not so much an idea originating among Jews - as one 
dreamed up to appeal to them, was Jewish colonization of agricultural land. It is said their 
history of dispersion had denied them possibilities in agriculture and forced them to engage 
in money lending, commerce and trade. Now at last Jews could occupy the land and thereby 
renounce the harmful ways of the past to labor productively under Soviet skies, and thus 
putting to flight the unflattering myths which had grown up about them. 

Soviet authorities turned to the idea of colonization partially to improve productivity, but 
mostly for political reasons. This was sure to bring a swell of sympathy, but more important, 
financial aid. Brutskus writes: "the Soviet government, needing credits, searched for support 
among the foreign bourgeoisie and highly valued its relations with the foreign Jewish 
bourgeoisie." However, towards 1924 the donations stopped pouring in and even "the 
Jewish American Charity ('Joint Committee') was forced to halt its work in Europe. To again 
collect large amounts of money (as they had through the American Relief Administration in 
1921), they needed to create, as they say in the U.S., a 'boom'. Colonization became the 
'boom' for Jewish charities. The grandiose project for resettling 100,000 Jewish families on 
their own land was, apparently, mostly a public relations ploy (133). The committee for the 
"State Land Trust for Jewish Laborers" (KomZET) was founded In 1924, followed by the "all- 
Soviet Volunteer Land Society of Jewish Laborers (OZET). (I remember as school children we 
were made to join and pay membership dues - by bringing money from home, to ODD 


(Society of Friends of the Children) and OZET. In many countries sisterorganizations to OZET 
sprung up. 

It was immediately clearthat "the assistance of the Soviet government in the passage of 
poor Jews to the land" was "a matter of international significance... Through this the foreign 
proletariat could judge the "power and solidity of the Soviet government." This development 
had the active participation and financial support of the powerful America Joint. The Jewish 
Chronicle of London, Oct 16,1925: "The Crimea has been offered as replacement for 
Palestine. Why send Jews to Palestine which is so unproductive... and which wil I mean so 
much sacrifice and hard work... when the rich land of Ukraine and fruited fields of the 
Crimea are smiling upon suffering Jews. Moscow will be the benefactor and defender of 
Russian Jewry and will be able to seek moral support from Jews around the globe... As well, 
the plan will cost nothing, as American Jews are covering all expenses" (134)." [Translator's 
note: find this quote in English] 

It didn't take the Russian emigre press long to recognize the Soviet maneuver. P. Struve in 
the Parisian journal Renaissancewrote: "this entire undertaking serves to bind Jewry - both 
Russian and international - to communist power and definitively mark Jews with the brand 
of communism" (135). In a lead editorial from the Berlin Rul: "It's true... the world identifies 
the Bolsheviks with the Jews. There is a need to further connect them with shared 
responsibility for the fate of hundreds of thousands of poor. Then you can trick wealthy 
American Jews with a threat: the fall of Soviet power followed by a mass pogrom which 
sweeps away the Jewish societies they founded. Therefore they will support Soviet power at 
all costs" (136). 

In a fateful irony, the Bolshevik bluff met American enterprise and the Americans fell for it, 
not knowing what was going on in the USSR (137). 

Actually, the world Jewish community was excited by hope in the rehabilitation of Jewish 
agriculture. In September, 1925 at the all-German session... the Jewish bourgeoisie under 
the leadership of the Director of the German National Bank, Hialmar Schacht decided to 
support the project. Leon Blum founded the "Jewish Construction Fund" in France which 
sent tractors to the settlers. The "Society for Aid for Jewish Land Colonization" was founded 
in New York. In countries around the globe, all the way to South Africa, money was collected 
for the colonization plan from Social Democrats, anarchists, and, so they say, ordinary 

The editors of the American magazine Morning Journal, posed the question - as did many 
others - "Is it ethical for Russian Jews to colonize land that was expropriated?" The Jewish 
Chronicle recalled that most of the former land owners were in prison, shot or exiled. They 
were answered by the leading American jurist Louis Marshall and chairman of the World 
Joint Committee who claimed the beneficent right of revolutionary expropriation (138). 
Indeed, during the years 1919-1923 "more than 23,000 Jews had settled in former estates 


near the towns and villages in the former Pale of Settlement". By spring 1923, no more of 
this land remained available and the first small groups of Jews started to form for 
resettlement to the free steppe land in Southern Ukraine (139). This movement picked up 
speed after 1925. 

The international Jewish Agro-Joint was formed by Marshall with the banker Paul Warburg 
as the director. Here our chroniclers of the history of communism decline to issue a 
denunciation of class enemies, and instead, approve of their efforts. 

The Agro-Joint concluded an agreement with KomZET about the contribution of tractors, 
farm machinery, seed, the digging of artesian wells and professional training for Jewish 
youth. EKO assisted as well. At a 1926 session of OZET Kalinin spoke out forcefully against 
any plans for Jewish assimilation and, instead, proposed a wide-ranging program for Jewish 
autonomy known in the West as the "Kalinin Declaration." 

The early plans called for resettlement to the south of Ukraine and northern Crimea of 
approximately 100,000 families or 20% of the entire Jewish population of the USSR. The 
plans contemplated separate Jewish national regions as well. ("Many remained jobless and 
nevertheless declined the opportunity to work" and "only half of all Jews who agreed to 
resettle actually took up residence in the villages they were supposed to resettle in" (140).) 

However, American Zionists objected to the OZET plan and saw in the "propaganda for the 
project of widespread Jewish agricultural colonization in the Soviet Union a challenge to 
Zionism and its idea for the settlement of Eretz Israel." OZET falsely claimed its plans did not 
contradict at all the idea of colonization of Palestine (141). 

Great hope was placed on Crimea. There were 455,000 hectares given over to Jewish 
colonization in Ukraine and Byelorussia; 697,000 hectares set aside in Crimea for that 
purpose. According to the 10-Year Plan for the settlement of Jews in Crimea, the Jewish 
proportion of the population was to grow from 8% in 1929 to 25% in 1939. (It was assumed 
that the Jews would substantially outnumber the Tatars by that time.) "There shall be no 
obstacles to the creation in the Crimean ASSR a Northern Crimean Autonomous Jewish 
Republic oroblast" (142). 

The settlement of the Jews in the Crimea provoked the hostility of the Tatars ("Are they 
giving Crimea to the Jews?") and dissatisfaction of local landless peasants. Larin writes "evil 
and false rumors are circulating throughout the country about removal of land from non- 
Jews, the expulsion of non-Jews and the particularly strong support the authorities have 
givento the Jewish settlers". It went sofarthat the chairman of the CIKofthe Crimean ASSR, 
Veli Ibraimov published an interview in the Simferopol paper Red Crimea (Sept 26, 1926) 
which Larin does not quote from, but which he claims was a manifestation of "evil bourgeois 
chauvinism" and a call for a pogrom. 


Ibraimov also promulgated a resolution and projects, which were "not yet ready for 
publication" (also not quoted by Larin). For this, Larin denounced Ibraimov to the Central 
Control Commission of CKofVKPb, recounting the incident with pride in his book. Asa result 
Ibraimov was "removed and then shot", after which the Jewish colonization of Crimea 
gained strength. 

As was typical for the communist regime, the closed trial of Ibraimov resulted in a political 
conviction for "connections with a Kulak bandit gang," officially, for "banditry" (143). A 
certain Mustafa, the assistant to the chair of the CIK, was also shot with Ibraimov as a bandit 

Rumors of the effective assistance given to the Jewish settlers did not die down. The 
authorities tried to counter them. A government newspaper in 1927 wrote "the generous 
assistance to Jewish settlers" is coming from "Jewish community organizations" (without 
mentioning they were Western organizations), and not from the government as is rumored. 
To refute the rumors, Shlikhter (that young brawler from Kiev's Duma in October, 1905), 
now Narkom of Agriculture of Ukraine, toured over the South of Ukraine. Rumors that the 
Jews were not working the land given to them but were renting it out or hiring farm laborers, 
were met with: "we haven't observed this behavior, but the Jewish settlers must be 
forbidden to rent out their land" and "the unhealthy atmosphere surrounding the Jewish 
resettlement must be countered with the widest possible education campaign" (145). 

The article allows one to judge about the scale of events. It states that 630 Jewish 
households moved into Kherson Province between the end of 1925 and July of 1927 (146). In 
1927, there were 48 Jewish agricultural settlements in Ukraine with a total population of 
35,000. In Crimea, 4463 Jews lived in Jewish agricultural settlements in 1926 (147). Other 
sources implausibly claimed that "by 1928, 220,000 Jews lived in Jewish agricultural colonies" 
(148). Similarly, Larin mentioned 200,000 by the beginning of 1929. Where does this order of 
magnitude discrepancy come from? Larin here contradicts himself, saying that in 1929 the 
share of Jews in agriculture was negligible, less than 0.2% (and almost 20% among 
merchants and 2% in population in general) (149). 

Mayakovsky saw it differently: 

"A hard toiling Jew 

Tills the rocky land" 

However, the program of Jewish land colonization, for all practical purposes, was a failure. 
For many of the settlers there was little motivation to stay. It didn't help that the 
resettlement and the building project had come from on high and the money from western 
organizations. A lot of government assistance for Jewish settlers didn't help. It is little known 
that tractors from neighboring collective farms were ordered to till Jewish land (150). 
Despite the flow of 2-3 thousand resettling Jewish families, by the end of five year work 


"Jewish settlements in Crimea" listed only around 5 thousand families" instead of pre- 
planned 10 to 15 thousand. The reason was that settlers frequently returned to their place 
of origin or moved to the cities of Crimea or other parts of the country (151). This mass 
departure of Jews from agriculture in the 1920'sand 30's resembles similar Jewish 
withdrawal from agricultural colonies in the 19th century, albeit now there were many new 
occupations available in industry (and in administration, a prohibited field for Jews in Tsarist 
Russia) (152). 

Eventually, collectivization arrived. Suddenly in 1930 Semyon Dimanstein, for many years the 
head of the "Jewish Section of CK of VKPb," a staunch communist who bravely put up with 
all Soviet programs in the 20's, came out in the press against universal collectivization in the 
national regions. He was attempting to protect the Jewish colony from collectivization which 
he had been "warned about" (153). However, collectivization came, not sparing the "fresh 
shoots of Jewish land stewardship" (154). At almost the same time, the Jewish and non- 
Jewish Kolkhozes were combined under the banner of "internationalism" (155) and the 
program of Jewish settlement in Ukraine and Crimea was finally halted. 

The principal Soviet project of Jewish colonization was at Birobidzhan, a territory "nearly the 
size of Switzerland" between the 2 branches of the Amur river near the Chinese border. It 
has been described variously. In 1956 Khrushchev bragged in conversations with Canadian 
communists that the soil was rich, the climate was southern, there was "much sun and water" 
and "rivers filled with fish" and "vast forests." The Socialist Vestnik described it as covered 
with "wild taiga... swampland made up a significant portion" of the territory (156). According 
the Encyclopedia Britannica: "a plain with swamps in places," but a "fertile land along the 
Amur" (157). 

The project came about in 1927 from the KomZET (a committee of the CIK) and was 
intended to: "turn a significant part of the Jewish population into a settled agricultural 
people in one location" (Kalinin). Also the Jewish Autonomous Republic was to serve as a 
counterweight to Zionism, creating a national homeland with at least half a million 
population (158). (One possible motive behind the plan which cannot be excluded: to wedge 
a loyal Soviet population into the hostile Cossack frontier.) 

OZET sent a scientific expedition to Birobidzhan in 1927 and, before large settlements of 
Jews began arriving, in 1928 started preparations and building for the settlement using 
laborers from the local populace and wandering work crews of Chinese and Koreans. 

Older residents of the area -Trans-Baikal Cossacks exiled there between the 1860's and the 
1880's and already tested by the hardships of the frontier woods - remember being 
concerned about the Jewish settlement. The Cossacks needed vast tracts of land for their 
farming methods and feared they would be crowded out of lands they used for hunting and 
hay harvesting. The KomZET commission report was "a preliminary plan for the possible 
gradual resettlement of 35,000 families". But reality was different. The CIK of VKPb in 1928 


assigned Birobidzhan for Jewish colonization and preparation of first settler trains began 
immediately. "For the first time ever, city dwellers (from Ukraine and Byelorussia) without 
any preparation for agricultural labor were sent to farm the land." (They were lured by the 
prospect of having the status of "lishenets" removed.) (159). 

The Komsomol published the "Monthly OZET" and Pioneer delegations traveled around the 
country collecting for the Birobidzhan resettlement. 

The hastily dispatched Jewish families were horrified by the conditions they met upon arrival. 
They moved into barracks at the Tikhonkaya railroad station, in the future town of 
Birobidzhan. "Among the inhabitants... were some who never left the barracks for the land, 
living off the loans and credits they managed to obtain for making the move. Others less 
nimble, lived in abject poverty" (160). 

"During the first year of work at Birobidzhan only 25 huts were built, only 125 hectares were 
plowed and none were planted. Many did not remain in Birobidzhan; 1,000 workers arrived 
in the Spring of 1928 and by July, 25% of all those who arrived in 1928 had left. "By February 
1929 more than half of the population had abandoned Birobidzhan" (161). From 1928 to 
1933 more than 18,000 arrived, yet the Jewish population grew only by 6,000. By some 
calculations "only 14% of those Jews who resettled remained in 1929" (169). They returned 
either to their homes or moved to Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. 

Larin, who devotes no small number of reasoned and impassioned pages to the building of 
Jewish agriculture sniffs that "an unhealthy fuss... has been raised around Birobidzhan... a 
Utopian settlement of a million Jews... Resettlement was practically presented as a national 
obligation of Soviet Jews, Zionism turned inside out... a kind of back-to-the-province 
movement". While international Jewish organizations provided no finances for Birobidzhan, 
from the beginning "considering it too expensive and riskyfor them" (163). More likely the 
western Jewish organizations, Agro-Joint, ORTand EKO could not support the distant project 
beyond the Urals (164). It wasn't a "Jewish plan," but a scheme of Soviet authorities eager to 
tear down and build life anew in the country. 


From the October revolution to the end of the 20's the lives of ordinary Jews were affected 
by the actions of Yevseks - members of the YevSek (The Jewish section of the CK of VKPb.) 
Besides the Jewish Commissariat, an active Jewish organization grew up in the VKPb. As well, 
from 1918, local organizations were formed in the guberniyas. They created an environment 
fanatically inspired with the idea and ideas of communism, even more so than was Soviet 
authority itself and at times these organizations even opposed Soviet projects. For example, 
"atthe insistence of the YevSek, the Jewish Commissariat decreed Hebrew to be a language 
of 'reaction and counter-revolution' in early 1919, requiring Jewish schools to teach in 
Yiddish" (165). The Central Bureau of the YevSek was part of the CK of VKPb and local 


YevSeks operated in the former Pale of Settlement. "The purpose of the YevSek was 
communist education and Sovietization of the Jewish population in their native language of 

From 1924 to 1928 responsibility for "all Jewish education and culture" was under the 
Jewish Bureaus of the republic-level administrative bodies, but these were abolished for 
"excesses in forced Yiddishization" and more power accrued to the YevSek (166). 

The activities of the YevSek in the 20's were contradictory. "On one hand they carried out 
active agitprop work in communist education in Yiddish and mercilessly battled against 
Judaism, traditional Jewish education, Jewish social structures, independent Jewish 
organizations, political parties and movements, Zionism and Hebrew. On the other hand it 
opposed assimilation with its support of the Yiddish language and a Yiddish culture and 
organizations of Jewish education, Jewish scientific research and activity to improve the 
economic status of Soviet Jews. In this "the YevSek often held a more radical position than 
even the central party bodies" (167). 

The anti-Zionist YevSek was made up "to a large degree" of "former Bundists and socialist- 
territoria lists" (168) who were thought of as traitors or "neophyte communists" in VKPb. The 
purpose of the YevSek was to develop communist influence on Russian Jewry and to create a 
"Jewish Soviet nation" isolated from world Jewry. But at the same time its actions 
paradoxically turned it from a technical apparatus urging the Jewish population to build 
socialism into a focal point for Jewish life in the USSR. A split arose in the YevSek between 
supporters of "forced assimilation" and those who thought its work was a "necessary means 
of preservation of the Jewish people" (169). 

The Book of Russian Jewry observes with sympathy that the activity of the YevSek "still 
carried a clearand expresslyJewish stamp under the banner of the Proletariat." For instance 
in 1926 using the slogan "to the countryside!," [meant to rouse interest in working in and 
propagandizing rural areas] the YevSek came up with "to the Shtetl!" 

"...This activity resonated widely in Jewish circles in Poland and in the U.S." The author 
further calls it "a many-faceted Jewish nationalism in communist form" (170). But in 1926 
the CP halted the activity of the YevSek and turned it into the Jewish Bureau. In 1930 the 
Jewish Bureau was closed along with all national sections of VKPb (171). After that the 
activity of the YevSeks continued under the banner of communism. "Russian Jewry lost all 
forms of self-expression, including communistic forms" (172). 

The end of the YevSek symbolized the final dissolution of the Bund movement "to allow a 
separate nationalist existence, even if it went against strict social-democratic theory" (171). 
However, after the YevSek was abolished, many of the former Yevseksand Jewish socialists 
did not come to their senses and put the "building of socialism" higherthan the good of their 
own people or any other good, staying to serve the party-government apparatus. And that 
overflowing service was evident more than anything. 


Whether statistically or using a wealth of singularexamples, it is obvious that Jews pervaded 
the Soviet power structure in those years. And all this happened in the state that persecuted 
freedom of speech, freedom of commerce and religion, not to mention its denigration of 
human worth. 


Bikerman and Pasmanik paint a very gloomy picture of the state of Jewish culture in the 
USSR in 1923: "all is torn up and trampled underfoot in the field of Jewish culture" (174). "All 
foundations of a nationalist Jewish culture are shaken and all that is sacred is stomped into 
the mud" (175). S. Dubnov saw something similar in 1922 and wrote about "rueful wreckage" 
and a picture "of ruin and the progress of dark savages, destroying the last remnants of a 
bygone culture" (176). 

However, Jewish historiography did not suffer destruction in the first 10 years after the 
revolution, as is attested to by the range of allowed publications. Government archives, 
including those from the department of police, opened after the revolution have given 
Jewish scholars a view on Jewish participation in the revolutionary movement, pogroms, and 
"blood libel" trials. The Jewish Historical-Ethnographical Society was founded in 1920 and 
published the 2-volume Material on theHistory of a nti -Jewish Pogroms in Russia. The Society 
later came under attack from the YevSek and it was abolished in 1929. The journals, The 
Jewish News and The Jewish Chronicle were shut down in the mid-twenties. S. Dubnov's 
Jewish Antiquity remained in publication (even after he left the USSR in 1922) but was closed 
in 1930. The Jewish Ethnographical Museum functioned from 1916, but was closed in 1930 

In the 1920's, Jewish culture had two divergent fates — one in Hebrew and one in Yiddish. 
Hebrew was strongly repressed and forbidden as authorities saw it as a carrier of religion 
and Zionism. Before the consolidation of Soviet power in the years 1917-1919 "there were 
more than 180 books, brochures, and journals in Hebrew" (mostly in Odessa, but also in Kiev 
and Moscow). The feeling that the fate of Hebrew was connected with the fate of the 
victorious communist revolution held in the early 20's "among young people attempting to 
create a 'revolutionary literary tribune, under whose banner they hoped to unite the 
creative youthful strength of world Jewry'" (178). However at the insistence of the YevSek, 
Hebrew was declared a "reactionary language" and already in 1919 the People's 
Commissariat of Education had "forbidden the teaching of Hebrew in all educational 
institutions. The removal of all Hebrew books from libraries had begun" (179). 

Yiddish culture fared much better. Yiddish was the language of the Jewish masses. According 
to the 1926 census, 73% of Jews listed Yiddish as their mother tongue (181) (another source 
cites a figure of 66% (181)) - that is the Jewish population could preserve its culture in 
Yiddish. Soviet authorities used this. If, in the early years of Soviet power and Bolshevism the 
opinion prevailed that Jews should discard their language and nationality, later the Jewish 


Commissariat at the Narkomat of Nationalities, the YevSek, and the Jewish sections of the 
republican narkomats of education began to build Soviet culture in Yiddish. In the 20's 
Yiddish was declared one of the official languages of Byelorussia; In Odessa of the 20's and 
even the 30'sitwasa language of many government institutions, with "Jewish hours" on the 
radio and court proceedings in Yiddish (182). 

"A rapid growth in Yiddish schools began in 1923 throughout the Soviet Union." Beginning in 
1923 and continuing through 1930 a program of systematic "Yiddishization" was carried out, 
even forced, upon Jewish schools in the former Pale of Settlement. Many schools were 
switched to Yiddish without considering the wishes of parents. In 1923 there were 495 
Yiddish schools with 70,000 Jewish children, by 1928 there were 900 schools and in 1930 
they had 160,000 children. (This can be partially explained by the fact that Ukrainians and 
Byelorussians at this time received full cultural autonomy and saw Jewish children as 
potential agents of Russification; Jewish parents didn't want their children in Ukrainian or 
Byelorussian schools and there were no more Russian schools — they had no choice but to 
go to Yiddish schools. They did not study Jewish history in these schools; instead there was 
"class warand the Jews" (183). (Just as in the Russian schools there was no study of Russian 
history, or of any history, only "social sciences".) Throughout the 20's "even those few 
elements of a specifically Jewish education were gradually driven out of Soviet Jewish 
schools." By the early 30' s the autonomously functioning system of Soviet Jewish schools 
had been officially done away with (184). 

From 1918 there were independent Jewish schools of higher education — ENU (Jewish 
People's University) until 1922 in Moscow; PENU in Petrograd which became Petrograd IVEZ 
(Institute of Higher Jewish Learning, one of whose founders and later Rector was Semyon 
Lozinsky) boasting "a number of distinguished scholars among faculty and large number of 
Jewish graduates". Supported by Joint, IVEZ functioned until 1925. Jewish divisions were 
established at educational science departments at Byelorussian University (1922) and at 
Second Moscow State University (1926). Central Jewish CP School teaching in Yiddish was 
established in 1921. Jewish educational system included special educational science 
technical colleges and more than 40 industrial and agricultural training schools (185). 

Jewish culture continued to exist and even received no small encouragement — but on the 
terms of Soviet authorities. The depths of Jewish history were closed. This took place on a 
background of the destruction of Russian historical and philosophical sciences complete with 
arrests of scholars. 

Jewish culture of the 20's could more accurately be called a Soviet "proletarian" culture in 
Yiddish. And for that kind of Jewish culture the government was ready to provide 
newspapers and theatre. Forty years later the Book of Russian Jewry gives a less than 
gloomy assessment of the cultural situation of Jews in the USSR in the early Soviet years. In 
Moscow the worldwide Jewish Telegraphic agency (ETA) continued to exist into the 40's as 
an independent unit — the only such agency in the Soviet nation that did not come under 


TASS, sending communications abroad (of course, subject to Soviet censorship). Newspapers 
were published in Yiddish, the main one being the house organ of the YevSek, The Moscow 
Der Amos from 1920 to 1938. According to Dimanstein there were 34 Yiddish publishers in 

Yiddish literature was encouraged, but, naturally, with a purpose: to turn Jews away from an 
historical Jewish past; to show "before October" as a gloomy prologue to the epoch of 
happiness and a new dawn; to smear anything religious and find in the Soviet Jew the "new 
man." Even with all this, it was so attractive to some prominent Jewish writers who had left 
the country that they started to return to the USSR: poets David Gofstein ("always suspected 
of harboring nationalist sentiment") and LeibKvitko ("easily accommodated to Soviet 
environment and become a prolific poet") returned in 1925; Perez Markish ("easily 
understands the needs of the party") — in 1926; Moses Kulbak and Der Nistor (the real 
name of the latter was Pinkhos Kaganovich, he later wrote novel Mashber Family 
characterized as the most "un-Soviet and liberal work of Jewish prose in Soviet Union") — 
returned in 1928. David Bergelson returned in 1929, he "paid tribute to those in power: 'the 
revolution has a right to cruelty' (186). (Which he, Markish and Kvitko were to experience 
themselves in 1952.) 

The "bourgeois" Hebrew culture was suppressed. A group of writers headed by H.N. Byalik 
left for Palestine in 1921. Another group "of Hebrew writers existed until the mid-30's, 
occasionally publishing in foreign journals. Some of these authors were arrested and 
disappeared without a trace while others managed to escape the Soviet Union" (187). 

Regarding Jewish culture expressed in Russian language, Yevseks interpreted it as the "result 
of government-directed efforts to assimilate Jews in Tsarist Russia." Among those writing in 
Yiddish, a split between "proletarian" writers and "companions" developed in mid-20's, like 
in Soviet literature at large. Majority of mainstream authors then switched to Russian 
language (188). 

The Jewish Chamber Theater in Yiddish in Moscow flowered since 1921 at a high artistic level 
with government aid (in 1925 it was transformed into the State Jewish Theater, GosET). It 
traveled through Europe and became an unexpected representative of Soviet power in the 
eyes of world Jewry. It made fun of pre-revolutionary ways and religious life of the shtetl. 
Mikhoels excelled as an actor and in 1928 became the director (189). 

The history of the Hebrews theater "Gabima," which began before the revolution was much 
more complicated. Originally supported by Lunacharsky, Gorky and Stanislavsky it was 
persecuted as a "Zionist nest" by the YevSek and it took a decision by Lenin to allow it to 
exist. "Gabima" became a government theatre. It remained the only outpost of Hebrew in 
the USSR, though it was clear it had no future (190). (The theatre critic A. Kugel said it had 
departed from Jewish daily life and lost its Jewish spirit (191).) In 1926 the troupe went on a 
European tour and did not return, disappearing from history soon after (192). 


By contrast, the government Yiddish theatre "was a real boon for Jewish theater arts in the 
USSR." In the early 30's there were 19 professional Yiddish theater groups... with a training 
school atGosETin Moscow, and Jewish dramatic arts studios in Kiev, Minsk and Moscow 

Here it is worth remembering the posthumous treatment of the ill-fated "Jewish Gogol" 
Semen Ushkevitch. His bookEpisodes, published in 1926 "satirizes revolution-era Jewish 
bourgeois". He died in 1927 and in 1928 the Soviet censor banned his play Simka, The Rabbit 
Hearted based on his earlier book. As an anti- bourgeois work it should have been fine, but 
"taking place in a Jewish setting and making fun of the stupidity, cowardice and greed of its 
subjects, it was banned because of fears that it would cause Judeophobic feelings" (194). 


In the meantime what was the condition of Zionist organizations in the USSR? They were 
fundamentally incompatible with communist authority and were accused of "international 
imperialism" and collaboration with the Entente. Because of their international standing the 
Soviets had to deal carefully with them. In 1920 the YevSek declared a "civil war on the 
Jewish street" against the Zionist organizations. Repression of Zionism deepened with the 
ban on Hebrew. However "anti-Zionist pressure did not exist everywhere and was not 
sufficiently severe" — that is "long-term imprisonment and exile were relatively rare." In 
spring 1920 right-wing Zionists were frightened with arrests, but on May 1 were amnestied. 

The dual policy of the Kremlin was apparent in its discussions with representatives of the 
World Zionist Organization. Chicherin did not dismiss out of hand it's the latter" s solicitations 
as the Soviets were "not yet ready to denounce Zionism once and for all" as had the YevSek. 
The more so since "from the beginning of NEP, lessening government pressure gave Zionist 
groups a breathing space" (195). Interestingly, Dzerzhinsky wrote in 1923 that "the program 
of the Zionists is not dangerous to us, on the contrary I consider it useful" and again in 1924 
"principally, we can be friends with Zionists" (196). The Central Zionist Bureau existed in 
Moscow from 1920 to 1924. In March of 1924 its members were arrested and only after 
much pleading from within the country and from overseas was exile to Central Asia replaced 
with exile abroad (197). In 1923 only two officially permitted Zionist organizations remained: 
Poale-Zion and the "legal" portion of the youth organization Gekhaluz, whose purpose was 
agricultural colonization of Palestine. They saw experience with collective farms in the USSR 
as preparation for this. They published a journal from 1924 to 1926 (198). Even the left-wing 
of the Zionist socialist party Zirei-Zion ('Youth of Zion') adopted a sharper tone vis a vis the 
Bolsheviks, and when the arrests in 1924, though short in duration, became more 
widespread they went underground. This underground movement was finally dispersed only 
in the late 20's. 

"Jewish blood will not oil the wheels of revolution," an organizational slogan of the 
movement, conveys the sense of the underground Zirei-Zion with its significant youth 


organizations in Kiev and Odessa. Regarding the government, "they formally recognized 
Soviet authority, but at the same time declared opposition to the dictatorship of the 
communist party." Much of its work was directed against the YevSek. "In particular, they 
agitated against the Crimean resettlement plan, seeing it as disturbing their 'national 
isolation'." From 1926 the party weakened and then disappeared (199). 

There was a wave of arrests of Zionists from September to October of 1924. Some of those 
arrested were tried in secret and given sentences of 3 to 10 years in the camps. But in 1925 
Zionist delegates were assured by the CIKofVKPb (Smidovitch) and the Sovnarkom (Rykov) 
and the GPU that they had nothing against Zionists as long as they "did not arouse the 
Jewish population againstSoviet power" (200). 

D. Pasmanik suggested in 1924 that "Zionists, Orthodox and nationalist Jews should be in the 
front ranks of those fighting alongside Soviet power and the Bolshevik worldview" (201). But 
there was no united front and no front rank. 

In the second half of the 20's, persecution of the Zionists was renewed and the exchange of 
prison sentences for exile abroad was sharply curtailed. "In 1928 authorities dissolved, the 
until then quasi-legal Poale-Zion and liquated the legal Gekhaluz, closing its farms... Almost 
all underground Zionist organizations were destroyed at that time." Opportunities to leave 
declined sharply after 1926. Some of the Zionists remained in prison or were exiled (202). 

The mass attraction of young urban Jews to communist and Soviet culture and programs was 
matched with a no less stubborn resistance from religious Jewry and older Jews from the 
former Pale. The party used the rock of the YevSek to crush and suppress this resistance. 

"One only has to be in a Jewish city such as Minsk or Vitebsk to see how all that was once 
worthy in Judaism, respected and worthy of respect has been turned upside down, crushed 
with poverty, insult, and hopelessness and how those pushed into higher places are the 
dissolute, frivolous, arrogant and brazen" (203). Bolshevik power "become the carrier of 
terrible ruin, material and moral... in our Jewish world" (204). "The mass of Jewish Bolsheviks 
on one hand and of Jewish NEPmen on the other indicate the depth of the cultural collapse 
of Jewry. And if radical healing from Bolshevism among the Russian people is to come from a 
revival of religious, moral and nationalist life then the Jewish idea must work for that also in 
their lives" (205). 

And work they did, but indicators vary as to degree of intensity and success. A near 
contemporary considered "Jewish society turned out either to have no rudder and no sail or 
was confused and in this confusion spiritually turned awayfrom its sources" in contrast to 
Russian society where there was still some resistance, albeit "clumsy and unsuccessful" (206). 

From the end of the 20'sto the beginning of the 30's the Jews abandoned their traditional 
way of life on a mass scale" (207)."ln the past 20 years Russian Jewry has gone further and 
further awayfrom its historical past... killing the Jewish spirit and Jewish tradition" (208). 


And a few years later on the very eve of WWII "with the ascension in Russia of the Bolshevik 
dictatorship, the fight between fathers and children in the Jewish street has taken a 
particularly bitter form" (209). 

Taking stock a half-century later, M. Agursky reminisces in Israel, that the misfortunes that 
befell Jews after the revolution to a large degree were brought on by the renunciation by 
Jewish youth of its religion and national culture, "the singular, exclusive influence of 
communist ideology..." "The mass penetration by Jews in all areas of Russian life" and of the 
Soviet leadership in the first 20 years after the revolution turned not to be constructive for 
Jews, but harmful (210). 

Finally, an author in the 1990's writes: "Jews were the elite of the revolution and on the 
winning side. That's a peculiarfact of the Russian internationalist socialist revolution. In the 
course of modernizing, Jewry was politically Bolshevized and socially Sovietized: The Jewish 
community as an ethnic, religious and national structure disappeared without a trace" (211). 
Jewish youth coming to Bolshevism were intoxicated by its new role and influence. For this, 
others too would have gladly given up their nationality. But this turning from the old ways to 
internationalism and atheism was not the same as assimilation into the surrounding majority, 
a centuries-old Jewish fear. This was leaving the old, along with all other youth, to come 
together and form a new Soviet people. "Only a small stream was truly assimilationalist in 
the old sense," like those people who converted to Orthodox Christianity and wished their 
own dissolution in the Russian culture. We find one such example in attorney Y. Gurevich, 
legal defender of metropolitan Venamin during his fatal trial in 1922 (212). 

The Jewish Encyclopedia writes of Jewish workers inthe "party and government apparatus 
of economic, scientific and even military organizations and institutions, that most did not 
hide their Jewish origins, but they and their families quickly absorbed Russian culture and 
language and being Jewish lost its cultural content" (213). 

Yes, the culture which sustained them suffered, "Soviet Man" was created, but the decades 
which followed showed that a remnant of Jewish self-awareness was preserved and 
remained. Even inthe flood of the internationalism of the 20's, mixed marriages (between 
Jews and Russians or Jews and any non-Jew), as measured from 1924-1926, were only 6.3% 
of the total marriages for Jews in the USSR, including 16.8% in RSFSR, but only 2.8% in 
Byelorussia and 4.5% in Ukraine (214) (according to another source, on average in USSR, 
8.5%; in RSFSR, 21%; in Byelorussia, 3.2%; and in Ukraine, 5% (215)). Assimilation had only 

* * * 

And what was the status of the Jewish religion in the new conditions? Bolshevik power was 
hostile to all religions. During the years of the hardest blows against the Orthodox Church, 
Jewish religious practice was treated with restraint. "In March, 1922 Dar Amos noted that 
the department of agitprop of the Central Committee would not offend religious feelings... In 


the 20's this tolerance did not extend to Russian Orthodoxy, which the authorities 
considered one of the main enemies of the Soviet order" (216). Nevertheless, the 
confiscation of church valuables extended to synagogues as well. E. Yarolslavsky wrote in 
Izvestia an article titled "What Can be Taken from a Synagogue": Often Rabbis will say there 
is nothing of value in a synagogue. Usually that is the case... The walls are usually bare. But 
menorahs are often made of silver. These must be confiscated." Three weeks before that 16 
silverobjects were taken from Jewish preaching house on Spasso-Glinischevsky avenue and 
in the neighboring choral synagogue "57 silverobjects and 2 of gold." Yaroslavsky further 
proposes a progressive tax on those who buy costly seats in the synagogue (217). 
(Apparently, this proposal went nowhere.) 

However "functionaries from the YevSek demanded of authorities that the same policy 
applied towards Christianity be carried out towards Judaism" (218). In the Jewish New Year, 
1921 the YevSek orchestrated a "public trial of the Jewish religion" in Kiev. The Book of 
Russian Jewry describes this and other show trials in 1921-1922: there was a court 
proceeding against a Cheder (a traditional elementary school with instruction in Hebrew) in 
Vitebsk, against a Yeshiva (a Jewish school for study of the traditional, texts, the Talmud, the 
Torah, and the Rabbinical literature) in Rostov and even against Day of Atonement in Odessa. 
They were intentionally conducted in Yiddish, as the YeSsek explained, so that Jewish 
Bolsheviks would "judge" Judaism. 

Religious schools were closed by administrative order and in December 1920 the Jewish 
section of the Narkomat of Education issued a encyclical about the liquidation of Cheders 
and Yeshivas. "Nevetheless, large numbers of Cheders and Yeshivas continued teaching 
semi-legally or completely underground for a long time afterthat" (219). "In spite of the ban 
on religious education, as a whole the 20's were rather a liberal period for Jewish religious 
life in the USSR" (220). 

"[A]t the request of Jewish laborers," of course, there were several attempts to close 
synagogues, but this met with "bitter opposition from believers." Still "during the 20's the 
central synagogues were closed in Vitebsk, Minsk, Gomel, Kharkov, Bobruisk" (221). The 
central Moscow synagogue on Maroseika managed stay open thanks to the efforts of Rabbi 
Maze in the face of Dzerzhinsky and Kalinin (222). In 1926, the "choral synagogue in Kiev was 
closed" and children's Yiddish theatre opened in its place (223). But "the majority of 
synagogues continued to function. In 1927, 1034 synagogues and prayer halls were 
functioning in Ukraine and the number of synagogues towards the end of the 20s' exceeded 
the number in 1917" (224). 

Authorities attempted to institute "Living Synagogues" based on the model of the "Living 
Church" imposed upon the Russian Orthodox Church. A "portrait of Lenin was to be hung in 
a prominent place" of such a synagogue, the authorities brought in "red Rabbis" and 
"communized Rabbis." However they "failed to bring about a split among the believers" 


(225) and the vast majority of religious Jews was decisively against the 'Living Synagogue', 
bringing the plan of Soviet authorities to naught (226). 

At the end of 1930 a group of rabbis from Minsk was arrested. They were freed after two 
weeks and made to sign a document prepared by the GPU agreeing that: (1) the Jewish 
religion was not persecuted in the USSR and, (2) during the entire Soviet era not one rabbi 
had been shot (227). 

Authorities tried to declare the day of rest to be Sunday or Monday in Jewish areas. School 
studies were held on the Sabbath by order of the YevSek. In 1929 authorities tried the five- 
day work week and the six-day work week with the day of rest upon the 5th or 6th day, 
respectively. Christians lost Sunday and Jews lost the Sabbath. Members of the YevSek 
rampaged in front of synagogues on holidays and "in Odessa broke into the Brads ky 
Synagogue and demonstratively ate bread in front of those fasting and praying." They 
instituted "community service" days during sacred holidays like Yom Kippur. "during holidays, 
especially when the synagogue was closed, they requisitioned Talles, Torah scrolls, prayer 
shawls and religious books... import of matzoh from abroad was sometimes allowed and 
sometimes forbidden (228)... in 1929 they started taxing matzoh preparation (229). Larin 
notes the "amazing permission" granted to bring matzoh from Konigsbergto Moscow for 
Passover in 1929 (230). 

In the 20's private presses still published Jewish religious literature. "In Leningrad, Hasids 
managed to print prayer books in several runs, a few thousands copies each" while 
Katzenelson, a rabbi from Leningrad, was able to use the printing-house "Red Agitator." 
During 1920's, the Jewish calendars were printed and distributed in tens of thousand copies 
(231). The Jewish community was the only religious group in Moscow allowed to build 
religious buildings. A second synagogue was built on Visheslaviz alley nearby Sushchevsky 
Embankment and a third in Cherkizov. These three synagogues stayed open throughout the 
30's (232). 

But "young Jewish writers and poets... gleefully wrote about the empty synagogues, the 
lonely rabbi who had no one to teach and about the boys from the villages who grew up to 
become the terrible red commissars" (233). And we saw the Russian members of Komsomol 
rampaging on Easter Sunday, knocking candles and holy bread out of worshippers' hands, 
tearing the crosses from the cupolas and we saw thousands of beautiful churches broken 
into a rubble of bricks and we remember the thousands of priests that were shot and the 
thousands of others who were sent to the camps. 

In those years, we all drove God out. 



From the early Soviet years the path for Jewish intelligentsia and youth was open as wide as 
possible in science and culture, given Soviet restrictions. (Olga Kameneva, Trotsky's sister, 
patronized high culture in the very early Soviet years.) 

Already in 1919 "a large number of Jewish youth" went into moviemaking — an art praised 
by Lenin for its ability to govern the psychology of the masses. Many of them took charge of 
movie studios, film schools and film crews. For example, B. Shumyatsky, one of the founders 
of the Mongolian Republic, and S. Dukelskywere heads of the main department of the 
movie industry at different times (234). Impressive works of early Soviet motion 
cinematography were certainly a Jewish contribution. The Jewish Encyclopedia lists 
numerous administrators, producers, directors, actors, script writers and motion picture 
theorists. Producer Dziga Vertov is considered a classic figure in Soviet, cinema, mostly 
nonfiction. His works includeLenin's Truth, Go Soviets, Symphony of Donbass [the Donetsk 
Basin], and The Three Songs about Lenin (235). (It is less known that he also orchestrated 
desecration of the holy relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh.) In the documentary genre, Esther 
Shub, "by tendentious cutting and editing of fragments of old documentaries, produced full- 
length propaganda movies (The Fall of Romanovs (1927) and others), and later — glorifying 
ones." Other famous Soviet names include S. Yutkevitch, G. Kozintsev and L. Trauberg (SVD, 
New Babel). F. Ermler organized the Experimental Movie Studio. Among notable others are 
G. Roshal (The Skotinins), Y. Raizman (Hard Labor Camps, Craving of Earth among others.). 
By far, the largest figure of Soviet cinematography was Sergei Eisenstein. He introduced "the 
epic spirit and grandeur of huge crowd scenes, tempo, new techniques of editing and 
emotionality" into the art of cinematography (236). However he used his gifts as ordered. 
The worldwide fame of Battleship Potemkin was a battering ram for the purposes of the 
Soviets and in its irresponsibly falsified history encouraged the Soviet public to further curse 
Tsarist Russia. Made-up events, such as the "massacre on Odessa Steps" scene and the 
scene where a crowd of rebellious seamen is covered with tarpaulin for execution, entered 
the world's consciousness as if they were facts. First it was necessary to serve Stalin's 
totalitarian plans and then his nationalistic idea. Eisenstein was there to help. 

Though the Jewish Encyclopedia list names in the arts by nationality, I must repeat: not in 
the nationalism does one find the main key to the epoch of the early Soviet years, but in the 
destructive whirlwind of internationalism, estranged from any feeling of nationality or 
traditions. And here in theater but close to authorities we see the glorious figure of 
Meyerhold, who became the leading and most authoritarian starof the Soviet theater. He 
had numerous impassioned admirers but wasn't universally recognized. From late 
recollections of Tyrkova-Vyazemskaya, Meyerhold appears as a dictator subjugating both 
actors and playwrites alike to his will "by his dogmatism and dry formalism." 
Komissarzhevskaya sensed "that his novelty lacks creative simplicity and ethical and 
esthetical clarity." He "clipped actor's wings... paid more attention to frame than to portrait" 
(237). He was a steady adversary of Mikhail Bulgakov. 


Of course, the time was such that artists had to pay for their privileges. Many paid, including 
Kachalov, Nemirovitch-Danchenko and A. Tairov-Kornblit, the talented producer of the 
Chamber Theater and a starofthat unique early Soviet period. (In 1930, Tairov "denounced" 
'Prompartia' in the party newspapers.) 

Artist Marc Chagall emigrated by 1923. The majority of artists in the 20's were required to 
contribute to Soviet mass propaganda. There some Jewish artists distinguished themselves, 
beginning with A. Lisitsky who greeted the revolution as "a new beginning for humanity." He 
joined a number of various committees and commissions, made first banner of all -Russian 
Central Executive Committee, which was displayed on the Red Square in 1918 by members 
of government." He made famous poster "Strike Whites with the Red Wedge," designed 
numerous Soviet expositions abroad (from 1927) and propaganda albums for the West 
("USSR Builds Socialism" etc.) (238). A favorite with the authorities was Isaac Brodsky who 
drew portraits of Lenin, Trotsky and others including Voroshilov, Frunze and Budenny. "After 
completing his portrait of Stalin he became the leading official portrait artist of the USSR" in 
1928 and in 1934 was named director of the ail-Russian Academy of Arts (239). 

During early years after revolution, Jewish musical life was particularly rich. At the start of 
century the first in the world Jewish national school of music in the entire world, which 
combined both traditional Jewish and contemporary European approaches, was established. 
The 1920'ssawa number of works inspired by traditional Jewish themes and stories, such 
asYouth of Abraham by M. Gnesin, The Song of Songs by A, Krein, and Jewish Rhapsody by 
his brother G. Krein. In that age of restrictions, the latter and his son Yulian were sent into 
eight-years studying trip to Vienna and Paris to "perfect Yulian's performance" (240). Jews 
were traditionally talented in music and many names of future stars were for the first time 
heard during that period. Many "administrators from music" appeared also, such as Matias 
Sokolsky-Greenberg, who was "chief inspector of music at Department of Arts of Ministry of 
Education" and a senior editor of ideological Music and Revolution. "Later in 1930's Moses 
Greenberg, "a prominent organizer of musical performances," was director of State 
Publishing House in music and chief editor of the Department of Music Broadcasting at the 
State Radio Studio (241). There was Jewish Conservatory in Odessa as well (242). 

Leonid Utesov (Lazar Vaysbeyn) thundered from the stage. Many of his songs were written 
by A. d'Aktil. A. P. German and Y. Hayt wrote the March of Soviet Aviation (243). This was 
the origin of Soviet mass singing culture. 

Year after year, the stream of Soviet culture fell more and more under the hand of the 
government. A number of various state organizations were created such as the State 
Academic Council, the monopolistic State Publishing House (which choked off many private 
publishing firms and even had its own political commissar, certain David Chernomordnikov 
in 1922-23 (244), and the State Commission for Acquisition of Art Pieces (de facto power 
over artist livelihood). Political surveillance was established. (The case of A. K. Glazunov, 
Rector of the Leningrad Conservatory, will be reviewed below). 


Of course, Jews were only a part of the forward triumphal march of proletarian culture. In 
the heady atmosphere of the early Soviet epoch no one noticed the loss of Russian culture 
and that Soviet culture was driving Russian culture out along with its strangled and might- 
have-been names. 


A vicious battle for the dominance within the Party was waged between Trotsky and Stalin 
from 1923 to 1927. Later Zinoviev fought for first place equally confident of his chances. In 
1926 Zinoviev and Kamenev, deceived by Stalin, united with Trotsky ("the United 
Opposition") — that is, three of the most visible Jewish leaders turned out on one side. Not 
surprisingly, many of the lower rank Trotskyites were Jewish. (Agursky cites A. Chiliga, exiled 
with Trotskyites in the Urals: "indeed the Trotskyites were young Jewish intellectuals and 
technicians," particularly from Left Bundists (245). 

"The opposition was viewed as principally Jewish" and this greatly alarmed Trotsky. In March 
of 1924 he complained to Bukharin that among the workers it is openly stated: "The kikes 
are rebelling!" and he claimed to have received hundreds of letters on the topic. Bukharin 
dismissed it as trivial. Then "Trotsky tried to bring the question of anti-Semitism to a 
Politburo session but no one supported him." More than anything, Trotsky feared that Stalin 
would use popular anti-Semitism against him in their battle for power. And such was 
partially the case according to Uglanov, then secretary of the Moscow Committee of the CP. 
"Anti-Semitic cries were heard" during Uglanov's dispersal of a pro-Trotsky demonstration in 
Moscow November 7, 1927 (246). 

Maybe Stalin considered playing the anti-Jewish card against the "United Opposition," but 
his superior political instinct led him away from that. He understood that Jews were 
numerous in the party at that time and could be a powerful force against him if his actions 
were to unite them against him. They were also needed in order to maintain support from 
the West and would be of further use to him personally. He never parted from his beloved 
assistant Lev Mekhlis — and from the Civil Warat Tsaritsyn, his faithful aid Moses 

But as Stalin's personal power grew towards the end of the 20'sthe number ofJewsinthe 
Soviet Apparatus began to fall off. It was no accident that he sent Enukidze to take 
photographs "among the Jewish delegates" at a "workers and peasants" conference during 
the height of the struggle for party dominance (247). 

Ya ros lavs ky writes in Pravda: "Incidents of anti-Semitism are the same whether they are 
used against the opposition or used by the opposition in its fight against the party." They are 
an "attempt to use any weakness, any fissures in the dictatorship of the proletariat... there is 
"nothing more stupid or reactionary than to explainthe roots of opposition to the 
dictatorship of the proletariat as related to the nationality of this or that opposition group 
member" (248). At the same Party Congress, the 25th, where the "united opposition" was 


decisively broken, Stalin directed Ordzhonikidze to specifically address the national question 
in his report to the Central Committee, as if in defense Jews. (Statistics from the report were 
discussed earlier in this chapter.) "The majority of the apparatus is Russian, so any discussion 
of Jewish dominance has no basis whatever" (249). At the 26th Party Congress in 1930 Stalin 
declared "Great Russian chauvinism" to be the "main danger of the national question." Thus, 
at the end of the 20's Stalin did not carry out his planned purge of the party and government 
apparatus of Jews, but encouraged their expansion in many fields, places and institutions. 

At the 25th Congress in December 1927, the time had come to address the looming "peasant 
question" — what to do with the presumptuous peasantry which had the temerity to askfor 
manufactured goods in exchange for their grain. Molotov delivered the main report on this 
topic and among the debaters were the murderers of the peasantry — Schlikhter and 
Yakovlev-Epstein (250). A massive war against the peasantry lay ahead and Stalin could not 
afford to alienate any of his reliable allies and probably thought that in this campaign against 
a disproportionately Slavic population it would be better to rely on Jews than on Russians. 
He preserved the Jewish majority in the Gosplan.The commanding heights of collectivization 
and its theory included, of course, Larin. LevKritzman was director of the Agrarian Institute 
from 1928. As Assistant to the President of the Gosplan in 1931-33 he played a fateful role in 
the persecution of Kondratev and Chayanov. Yakov Yakovlev-Epstein took charge of People's 
Commissariat of Agriculture in 1929. (Before that he worked in propaganda field: he was in 
charge of Head Department of Political Education since 1921, later — in the agitprop division 
of Central Committee and in charge of press division of Central Committee. His career in 
agriculture began in 1923 when during the 13th Party Congress he drafted resolutions on 
agricultural affairs (251). And thus he led the "Great Change," the imposition of 
collectivization on millions of peasants with its zealous implementers on the ground. A 
contemporary writer reports: "for the firsttime ever a significant number of young Jewish 
communists arrived in rural communities as commanders and lords over life and death. Only 
during collectivization did the characterization of the Jew as the hated enemy of the peasant 
take hold — even in those places where Jews had never been seen before" (252). 

Of course regardless of the percentage of Jews in the party and Soviet apparatus, it would be 
a mistake to explain the ferocious anti-peasant plan of communism as due to Jewish 
participation. A Russian could have been found in the place of Yakovlev-Epstein — that's 
sufficiently clearfrom our post-October history. 

The cause and consequences of de-Kulakization and collectivization were not only social and 
economic: The millions of victims of these programs were not a faceless mass, but real 
people with traditions and culture, cut off from their roots and spiritually killed. In its 
essence, de-Kulakization was not a socio-economic measure, but a measure taken against a 
nationality. The strategic blow against the Russian people, who were the main obstacle to 
the victory of communism, was conceived of by Lenin, but carried out after his death. In 
those years communism with all its cruelty was directed mostly against Russians. It is 


amazing that not everything has perished during those days. Collectivization, more than any 
other policy of the communists, gives the lie to the conception of Stalin's dictatorship as 
nationalist, i.e., "Russian." 

Regarding Jewish role in collectivization, it is necessary to remember that Jewish 
communists participated efficiently and diligently. From a third-wave immigrant who grew 
up in Ukraine. "I remember my father, my mother, aunts, uncles all worked on 
collectivization with great relish, completing 5-year plans in 4 years and writing novels about 
life in factories" (253)[Translator's note: a mainstream Soviet literary genre in the 20's]. 

In 1927 Izvestia declared "there is no Jewish question here. The October revolution gave a 
categorical answer long ago. All nationalities are equal - that was the answer" (254). 
However when the dispossessors entering the peasant huts were not just commissars but 
Jewish commissars the question still glowered in the distance. 

"At the end of the 20's" writes S. Ettinger, "in all the hardship of life in the USSR, to many it 
seemed that Jews were the only group which gained from the revolution. They were found 
in important government positions, they made up a large proportion of university students, 
it was rumored that they received the best land in the Crimea and have flooded into 
Moscow" (255). 

Half a century later, June 1980, at a Columbia University conference about the situation of 
Soviet Jewry, I heard scholars describe the marginalized status of Jews in the USSR and in 
particular how Jews were offered the choice of either emigration or denying their roots, 
beliefs and culture in order to become part of a denationalized society. 

Bah! That was what was required of all peoples in the 20's under the threat of the Solovki 
prison camp -and emigration was not an alternative. 

The "golden era" of the 20's cries out for a sober appraisal. 

Those years were filled with the cruelest persecution based upon class distinction, including 
persecution of children on account of the former life of their parents - a life which the 
children did not even see. But Jews were not among thesechildren or parents. 

The clergy, part of the Russian character, centuries in the making, was hounded to death in 
the 20's. Though not majority Jewish, too often the people saw Jews directing the special 
"ecclesiastical departments of the GPU" which worked in this area. 

A wave of trials of engineers took place from the end of the 20's through the 30's. An entire 
class of older engineers was eliminated. This group was overwhelmingly Russian with a small 
number of Germans. 

Study of Russian history, archeology, and folklore were suppressed — the Russians could not 
have a past. No one from the persecutors would be accused having their own national 


interest. (It must be noted that the commission which prepared the decree abolishing the 
history and the philology departments at Russian universities was made up Jews and non- 
Jews alike — Goykhbarg, Larin, Radek and Ropstein as well as Bukharin, M. Pokrovskii, 
Skvortsov-Stepanov and Fritche. It was signed into existence by Lenin in March, 1921.) The 
spirit of the decree was itself an example of nationalist hatred: It was the history and 
language of the Great Russians that was no longer needed. During the 20's the very 
understanding of Russian history was changed — there was none! And the understanding of 
what a Great Russian is changed — there was no such thing. 

And what was most painful, we Russians ourselves walked along this suicidal path. The very 
period of the 20's was considered the dawn of liberated culture, liberated from Tsarismand 
capitalism! Even the word "Russian," such as "I am Russian" sounded like a counter- 
revolutionary cry which I well remember from my childhood. But without hesitation 
everywhere was heard and printed "Russopyati"! [Translator's note: a disparaging term for 
ethnic Russians.] 

Pravda published the following in a prominent place in 1925 by V. Aleksandrovsky (not 
known for any other contribution): 

Rus! Have you rotted, fallen and died? 

Well... here's to your eternal memory... 

... you shuffle, your crutches scraping along, 

Your lips smeared with soot from icons, 

over your vast expanses the raven caws, 

You have guarded your grave dream. 

Old woman — blind and stupid... (256) 

V. Bloom in Moscow Evening could brazenly demand the removal of "history's garbage from 
[city] squares": to remove Minin-Pozharsky monument from the Red Square, to remove the 
monument to Russia's thousand-yearanniversary in Novgorod and a statue of St. Vladimir 
on the hill in Kiev. "Those tons of metal are needed for raw material." (The ethnic coloring of 
the new names has already been noted.) 

Swept to glory by the political changes and distinguished by personal shamelessness, David 
Zaslavsky demanded the destruction of the studios of Igor Graybar used to restore ancient 
Russian art, finding that "reverend artist fathers were trying again to fuse the church and art" 

Russia's self-mortification reflected in the Russian language with the depth, beauty and 
richness of meaning were replaced by an iron stamp of Soviet conformity. 


We have not forgotten how it looked atthe height of the decade: Russian patriotism was 
abolished forever. But the feelings of the people will not be forgotten. Not how it felt to see 
the Church of the Redeemer blown up by the engineer Dzhevalkin and that the main mover 
behind this was Kaganovich who wanted to destroy St. Basil's cathedral as well. Russian 
Orthodoxy was publicly harassed by "warrior atheists" led by Gubelman-Yaroslavsky. It is 
truthfully noted: "That Jewish communists took part in the destruction of churches was 
particularly offensive... No matter how offensive the participation of sons of Russian 
peasants in the persecution of the church, the part played by each non-Russian was even 
more offensive" (258). This went againstthe Russian saying: "if you managed to snatch a 
room in the house, don't throw the God out". 

In the words of A. Voronel, "The 20's were perceived by the Jews as a positive opportunity 
while for the Russian people, it was a tragedy" (259). 

True, the Western leftist intellectuals regarded Soviet reality even higher; their admiration 
was not based on nationality but upon ideas of socialism. Who remembers the lightening 
crack of the firing squad executing 48 "food workers" for having "caused the Great Famine" 
(i.e., rather than Stalin): the wreckers in the meat, fish, conserves and produce trade? 
Among these unfortunates were not less than ten Jews (260). What would it take to end the 
world's enchantment with Soviet power? Dora Shturman attentively followed the efforts of 
B. Brutskus to raise a protest among Western intellectuals. He found some who would 
protest - Germans and "rightists." Albert Einstein hotheadedly signed a protest, but then 
withdrew his signature without embarrassment because the "Soviet Union has achieved a 
great accomplishment" and "Western Europe... will soon envy you." The recent execution by 
firing squad was an "isolated incident." Also, "from this, one cannot exclude the possibility 
that they were guilty." Romain Rolland maintained a "noble" silence. Arnold Zweig barely 
stood up to the communist rampage. At least he didn't withdraw his signature, but said this 
settling of accounts was an "ancient Russian method." And, if true, what then should be 
asked of the academic loffe in Russia who was prompting Einstein to remove his signature 

No, the West never envied us and from those "isolated incidents" millions of innocents died. 
We'll never discover why this brutality was forgotten by Western opinion. It's not very 
readily remembered today. 

Today a myth is being built about the past to the effect that under Soviet power Jews were 
always second class citizens. Or, one sometimes hears that "there was not the persecution in 
the 20's that was to come later." 

It's very rare to hear an admission that not only did they take part, but there was a certain 
enthusiasm among Jews as they carried out the business of the barbaric young government. 
"The mixture of ignorance and arrogance which Hannah calls a typical characteristic of the 
Jewish parvenu filled the government, social and cultural elite. The brazenness and ardor 


with which all Bolshevik policies were carried out — whether confiscation of church property 
or persecution of 'bourgeois intellectuals' gave Bolshevik power in the 20's a certain Jewish 
stamp" (263). 

In the 90's another Jewish public intellectual, writing of the 20's said : "In university halls 
Jews often set the tone without noticing that their banquet was happening against the 
backdrop of the demise of the main nationality in the country... During the 20's Jews were 
proud of fellow Jews who had brilliant careers in the revolution, but did not think much 
about how that career was connected to the real suffering of the Russian people... Most 
striking today is the unanimity with which my fellow Jews deny any guilt in the history of 
20th century Russia" (264). 

How healing it would be for both nations if such lonely voices were not drowned out... 
because it's true, in the 20's, Jews in many ways served the Bolshevik Moloch not thinking of 
the broken land and not foreseeing the eventual consequences for themselves. Many 
leading Soviet Jews lost all sense of moderation during that time, all sense of when it was 
time to stop. 


1 M. rionoBCKMM. O Hac — co BceM MCKpeHHOCTbK) // HoBbiM awiepHKaHeu,, Hbto-MopK, 1981, 20-26 cemndpn 
(N2 84), c. 7. 

2 A. /lbBOB. Tfle Tbi, Aflawi // HoBaa ra3eTa, Hbio-MopK, 1981, 28 HOfl6pa-4 fle«a6pfl (N2 82), c. 4. 

3 KpaTKaa EBpeficKaa 3HU,MKnoneflHfl (flayiee — KE3). Mepyca^MM, 1976. T. 1, c. 235. 

4 Taw\ we, t. 5, c. 477-478. 

5 KD. /lapMH. EBpeM m a HTMceMMTH3M b CCCP (qayiee — KD. /lapMH). M.;/l.: TM3, 1929, c. 58-60. 

6 M. ArypcKMM. Mfleo^ornfl Hau,MOHa^-6o^biueBM3Ma. riapuHC YMCA-Press, 1980, c. 265. 

7 KE3, t. 1, c. 326. 

8 KD. /lapMH, c. 63-64, 74. 

9 M3BecTMfl, 1927, 11 fleKa6pa, c. 1. 

10 CM. LLlBapu,. AHTMceMMTM3M bCobctckom CoK)3e. Hbto-MopK: M3fl-BO mm. HexoBa, 1952, c. 44-46, 48-49 (co 
ccbmKOM Ha: fl. 3nHrep. MaTepna^bi m ncc^eflOBaHMfl 06-beflMHeHHOM CTaTMCTHKO-SKOHOMMHecKOM kommccmm 
npn L1K OPTa. M., 1927. Bbin. 1; EBpeficKoe Hace^eHne b CCCP (cTaTMCTHKO-SKOHOMMHecKUM o63op) M.; f].: 
Cou,3rn3, 1932). 

11 14. M. EnKepwiaH. Poccma m pyccKoe eBpeficTBO // Poccma m eBpen: C6. 1 (fla^ee — PmE) / OTenecTBeHHoe 
o6-beflMHeHne pyccKMX eBpeeB 3arpaHnu,eM. riapuHK: YMCA-Press, 1978, c. 28 [1-e M3fl. — EepyiMH: OcHOBa, 

12 CM. LLlBapu,. AHTMceMMTM3M..., c. 7, 17, 25, 29, 39. 


13 KE3, t. 8, c. 161-162. 

14 14. M. BuKepwia h. Poccma m pyccKoe eBpeficTBO // PmE, c. 22-23. 

15 KE3, t. 8, c. 186 

16 T. Apohcoh. EBpeficKMM Bonpoc b snoxy CrayiMHa // KHura o pyccKOM eBpeficTBe, 1917-1967 (flayiee — KPE- 
2). Hbio-MopK: Cok)3 PyccKMX EBpeeB, 1968, c. 137. 

17 PoccuMCKaa EBpeMCKaa 3HU,MK.noneflMfl (fla.nee — PE3). 2-e M3fl., ncnp. m flon. M., 1995. T. 2, c. 218. 

18 H. EyxapuH. [floKyiafl Ha XXIV/leHMHrpaflCKOM ry6napTKOH4>epeHU,MM] // llpaBfla, 1927, 2 4>, c. 4. 

19 KD. /lapMH, c. 86. 

20 KD. /lapMH*, c. 124-125 (coccbmKOM Ha CTeHorpawiMy penn KntoHHMKOBa m yKa3aHnew\, hto nacTbee 6bi/ia 
HanenaTaHa b «Pa6oneM MocKBe» 7 fleK. 1926). 

21 Tawiwe, c. 127. 

22 M. ArypcKMM. \Ap,eonorm Hau,MOHa.n-6o.nbLijeBM3Ma, c.223. 

23 r.n. *eflOTOB. /1mu,o Poccmm: C6. CTaTeM (1918-1931). riapMw: YMCA-Press, 1967, c, 57. 

24 T. Cmmoh. EBpen u,apcTByK>T b Poccmm: 143 BocnoMMHa hmm aMepMKaHU,a. napMH<: Poahmk, 1929, c. 50. 

25 riMCbwio B.I4. BepHaflCKoro 14.14. rieTpyHKeBMHy OTl4MK>Hfl 1927// HoBbiM MMp, 1989, N2 12, c. 219. 

26 KD. /la pMH, c. 61-63,86. 

27 Taw\ >xe, c. 259. 

28 E.C. O Hau,MOHayibHOM cocTaBePKn // llpaBfla, 1923, 21 aBrycTa, c. 5. 

29 M. ArypcKMM. l4fleo.norMfl Hau,MOHa^-6o^biueBM3Ma, c. 264. 

30 14.14. LUmtu,. flHeBHMK «BanMKoro nepe;ioMa>> (wiapT 1928 — aBrycrl931). riapMw: YMCA-Press, 1991, c. 202. 

31 EBpeM b KOMMyHMCTMHecKOM napTMM // EBpeMCKaa TpM6yHa, 1923, 1 mk)ha(N2 164). 

32 KD. /la pMH, c. 257, 268. 

33 E.C. O Hau,MOHayibHOM cocTaBePKn // ripaBfla, 1923, 21 aBrycTa, c. 5. 

34 M. ArypcKMM. l4fleo.norMfl Hau,MOHa^-6o^biueBM3Ma, c.303. 

35 KD. /lapMH, c. 258. 

36 M. ArypcKMM. l4fleo.norMfl Hau,MOHa^-6o^biueBM3Ma, c. 238-239. 

37 !43BecTMH, 1922, 17 Man, c. 4. 


38 Bo^biueBMKM: floKywieHTbi no mctopmm 6o^biueBM3Ma c 1903 no 1916 rofl 6biBiu. Mockobckoto OxpaHHoro 
OTfle^eHMfl / Coct. M.A. LIab^obckum, cflono^H. cnpaBKawin A.M. Cepe6peHHMKOBa. Hbto-MopK: TeneKC, 1990, 
c. 316. 

39 /l.KD. KpuneBCKHM. EBpen b annapaTeBHK-Omy b 20-e roflbi // EBpen m pyccKaa peBo.ntou.i'ifl: MaTepna^bi m 
ncc^eflOBaHMfl / Pefl.-cocT. O.B. ByflHMU,KMM. MocKBa, Mepyca^nwi: Teujapuwi, 1999, c. 330-336. 

40TaM>xe, c. 340, 344-345. 

41 PE3, t. 3, c.178. 

42 PE3, T.l.c.21. 

43 M3BecTMJi, 1927, 18 fleK., c. 1, 3, 4. 

44 PE3, t. 3, c. 115-116,286, 374, 394,414. 

45 fl. A36e^b. flo, bo Bpewia m nocne// Bpewifl m Mbi (fla^ee — BM): MexKflyHapoflHbm >xypHa.n yiMTepaTypbi m 
o6mecTBeHHbix npo6^ew\. Hbio-MopK, 1989, N2 105, c. 204-205. 

46 Leonard Schapiro.The Role of the Jews in the Russian Revol utionary Movement // The Slavonic and East 
European Review, vol.40, London: Athlone Press, 1961-62, p. 165. 

47 M. 3apy6e>KHbiM. EBpen b Kpewune // Anecf), Te/ib-ABMB, 1989, cteBpayib (N2 263), c. 24-28. 

48 ApoH A6paw\OBMH. B pewatomefi BOMHe: YnacTue m po/ib eBpeeB CCCP b BOMHe npoTMB Hau,M3Ma. 2 -e M3fl. 
Teyib-ABMB, 1982. T. 1. 

49 Mu,xaK Apafl. Xo^oKaycT: KaTacTpo4>a eBponeficKoro eBpeficTBa (1933-1945). Mepyca^MM, 1990, c. 96. 

50 06btom, b nacTHOCTM, cm.: fl.C. riacMaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl m eBpeficTBo: (Bo^biueBM3M m nyflan3w\). 
napn>K, 1923, c. 148. 

51 PE3, t. 2, c. 499-500, t. 3, c. 273, 422. 

52 M3BecTMfl, 1927, 22fleKa6pfl, c. 1. 

53 Vladimir N.lpatieff. The Life of a Chemist. Stanford, 1946, p. 377. 

54 T.A. Co^omoh. CpeflM KpacHbix BowfleM. riapuHC MniueHb, 1930.4.2. 

55 Vladimir N.lpatieff. The Life of a Chemist, p. 377. 

56 EBpeMCKaa Tpn6yHa* 1922,6 mana (N° 130), c. 6. 

57 M. 3apy6e>KHbiM. EBpen b Kpewune // Anecf), 1989, OeBpayib, c. 26-27. 

58 M3BecTMfi, 1927, 25 aBrycTa, c. 2. 

59 PE3, t. 1, c.331. 

60 Taw\ we, c. 105, 536, 538, t. 2, c. 256. 


61 PE3. t. 3, c. 311-312. 

62 PE3, t. 3, c.302. 

63 PE3, t.1,C. 197-198,234, 275-276, T. 2, c. 18, 140 518t. 3, c. 260. 

64 M3BecTMfl, 1927, 27 HOfl6pa, c. 4. 

65 PE3, t. 3, c. 383. 

66 E. Epyu,Kyc. EBpeficKoe HaceneHne nofl KOMMyHMCTMHecKOM B.nacTbto // CoBpewieHHbie 3anncKM, riapn>K, 
1928, kh. 36, c. 519-521. 

67 KD. /lapMH, c. 73. 

68 T. noMepaHU,. Coh o cnpaBeA/iMBOM B03w\e3flMM // CnHTaKcuc: ny6^nu,MCTMKa, KpnTMKa, no^ewiMKa. riapn>K, 
1980, N2 6, c. 52-53, 68. 

69 B. Mmpckmm. HepHaa cothh // EBpeficKaa Tpn6yHa, 1924, 1 4> (N2 58), c. 3. 

70 Ct. MBaHOBMH. EBpen m coBeTCKaa flMKTaTypa // EBpeficKMM winp: EweroflHMK Ha 1939r. (flayiee — EM-1). 
riapuHK: 06-beflMHeHne pyccKO-eBpeMCKOM MHTeyiyinreHL^nn, c. 47. 

71 Muxan^ XeMc^eu,. MecTO m Bpewia (eBpeMCKne 3aw\eTKn). riapunc TpeTbfl Bc/ma, 1978, c. 43. 

72 Tawiwe, c. 44-45. 

73 B. Eoryc^aBCKMM. B 3amnTy KyHaeBa // "22": 06mecTBeHHO-noyiMTMHecKMM m ^MTepaTypHbiM >xypHa.n 
eBpeMCKOM m HTeyiyi m reH u,m m M3 CCCP b l/bpamie. Te^b-ABMB, 1980, N2 16, c. 174. 

74 R. Rutman. Solzhenitsyn and the Jewish Question // Soviet Jewish Affairs, 1974, Vol. 4, N° 2, p. 7. 

75 M. ArypcKMM. \Ap,eonorm Hau,noHa^-6o^biueBM3Ma, c. 150. 

76 K eBpeflM Bcex CTpa h ! // PmE, c. 7. 

77 M.M. EnKepwiaH. K caw\ono3HaHMK)eBpea: Hew\ Mbi 6bmn, newi Mbi CTa^n,Hew\ Mbi flo.n>KHbi 6biTb. riapn>K, 
1939, c. 70. 

78 C.fl. /lypbe. AHTMceMMTH3M BflpeBHewi winpe. Te^b-ABMB: CoBa, 1976, c. 8 [1-e M3fl. — nr.: Ebmoe, 1922]. 

79 E. KycKOBa. Kto ohm m kbk 6biTb? // EBpeMCKaa Tpn6yHa, 1922, 19 OKTa6pa (N° 144), c. 1-2. 

80 C.C. MacnoB. Poccmh nocne neTbipex ;ieT peBO^K)u,nn. riapn>K: PyccKaa nenaTb, 1922. Kh. 2, c. 41. 

81 Taw\ we, c. 41,42,43, 155, 176-177. 

82 Tawiwe, c. 42,44-45. 

83 fl.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl m eBpeficTBO*, c. 198-199. 

84 fl.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBO^(ou,Mfl m eBpeMcmo, c. 198, 200. 


85 T.A. /laHflay. PeB0.mou,M0HHbie Mflen b eBpeficKOM o6mecTBeHHOCTM // PmE, c. 101. 

86 fl.C. riacMa hmk. Hero >xe Mbi flo6nBaew\cfl? // PmE, c. 217. 

87 M. Ko3a kob. [nucbwio] // En6^MOTeKa-4)OHfl «PyccKoe3apy6e>Kbe» (EOP3). O. 1, E-60, c. 1. 

88 B.B. LUyyibrMH. «Hto Hawt b hmx He HpaBMTCfl...»: 06 AHTMceMMTH3Me b Poccmm. riapMW, 1929, c. 41-43. 

89 KD. /lapMH, c. 254. 

90 T. Pmmckmm. ripaBMTenbCTBeHHbiM aHTMceMMTM3M b CoBeTCKOM Poccmm // EBpeficKaa TpM6yHa, 1923, 7 ceHT. 
(N2 170), c. 3. 

91 KD. /la pMH, c. 240-244. 

92 KD. /la pMH, c. 244. 

93 TaM>xe, c. 47. 

94 Taw\ we, c. 35, 86, 102, 108-110, 120. 

95 Ta m >Ke, c. 121,134, 135. 

96 Taw\ we, c. 144, 145, 148-149. 

97 KD. /lapMH, c. 238-240, 244-245, 247, 248. 

98 CM. LUBapu,. AHTMcew\MTM3M..., c. 8, 39. 

99 B. A/ieKcaHflpoBa. EBpeM b coBeTCKOM ^MTepaType // KPE-2, c. 290. 

100 CM. LLlBapu,. AHTMcew\MTM3M..., c. 83-84. 

101 /l.C Ha 6opb6y c noco6HMKaw\M KOHTppeBO^K)u,MM // ripaBfla, 1928, 17wiaa, c. 4. 

102 KD. /lapMH, c. 9, 119-120, 269-270, 276-277, 280-282. 

103 KD. /lapMH, c. 27, 45-46, 106, 116, 252, 254, 255, 257. 
104Taw\ we, c. 138, 283, 288. 

105Tawt>Ke, c. 259, 278. 

106 CM. LLlBapu,. AHTMcew\MTM3M..., c. 72-73. 

107TaM>xe*, c.32. 

108 CM. LLlBapu,. AHTMcew\MTM3M... *, c. 88-89. 
109Taw\>Ke*, c. 90-91. 

110 T.A. /laHflay. PeBo^iou,MOHHbie MfleM b eBpeficKOM o6mecTBeHHOCTM //PmE, c. 101. 


111 CM. LUBapu,. AHTMceMMTM3M...*, c. 73, 74. 

112 H3n m eBpen // EBpeficKaa Tpn6yHa, 1923, 21 ceHTfl6pfl (N2 171), c. 3-4. 

113 KE3, t. 8, c. 170,171. 

114 KE3, t. 8, c. 186. 

115 IO. /lapMH, c. 75, 77-80, 107. 

116 T. Apohcoh. EBpeMCKMM Bonpoc b snoxy CrayiMHa // KPE-2, 
117(0. /lapMH* c. 121-122. 

118 Samuel Ettinger. Russian Society and the Jews // Bulletin on Soviet and East European Jewish Affairs, 1970, 
N2 5, p. 38-39. 

119 l43Bec™fl, 1928, 22 anpeyia, c. 7. 

120 KE3. t. 8, c. 187. 
121Tawi we, c. 161. 
122Taw\ we, c. 188. 

123 T. Apohcoh. EBpeMCKMM Bonpoc b snoxy Cra/WHa // KPE-2, c. 136. 

124 H3n m eBpen // EBpeticKaa Tpn6yHa, 1923, 21 cema6pn (N2 171)-c. 3-4. 

125 T. Cmmoh. EBpen u,apcTByK>T b Poccmm, c. 22, 159, 192, 217, 237. 

126 6. 6pyu,Kyc. EBpeficKoe Hace^eHne nofl KOMMyHMCTMHecKOM B/iacTbK) // CoBpewieHHbie 3anncKM, 1928, kh. 
36, c. 511-512. 

127 6. 6pyu,Kyc. EBpeficKoe Hace^eHne nofl KOMMyHMCTMHecKOM B/iacTbio // CoBpewieHHbie 3anncKM, 1928, kh. 
36, c. 513-518. 

128A.C. nacwiaHMK. PyccKaa peBo^tou,na m eBpeMCTBO, c. 194,195. 

129 B.M. /leHMH. floKnafl o 3awieHe pa3BepcTKM HaTypayibHbiwi Hayiorowi. 15 wiapTa 1921// CoHMHeHna: B 45 t. 
4-e M3fl. T. 32, c. 201. 

130 3. CaiTOH. Yoyiyi-CTpuT m 6o^bUjeBMU,Kafl peB0^rou,na / llep. c aHrn. M., 1998, c. 64-66, 193. 

131 B.M. /leHMH. no^Hoe co6paHne coHMHeHMM: B 55 t. 5-e M3fl. T. 53, c. 267. 

132 6. 6pyu,Kyc. EBpeticKoe Hace^eHne nofl KOMMyHMCTMHecKOM B^acTbto// CoBpewieHHbie 3anncKM, 1928, 
kh.36, c. 525. 

133Tawi>xe, c. 524-526. 

134 (O. /lapMH*, c. 293, 297-298. 


135 n. CrpyBe. ripoeKT eBpeMCKOM KO^OHM3au,nn Poccmm // Bo3po>KfleHMe, napn>«, 1925, 25 OKTfl6pa (N2 145), 
c. 1. 

136 Py;ib, BepyiMH, 1925, 1 o«Tfi6pfi (N2 1469), c. 1. 

137 M. BeHeflMKTOB. EBpeficKaa KO^OHM3au,Mfl b CCCP // nocneflHi-ie hoboctm, 1925, 6 Hoa6pa (N2 1699), c. 2. 

138 KD. /lapMH, c. 295,296, 300-302. 

139 KE3, t. 8, c. 184. 

140 KE3, t. 8, c. 185,188. 

141 KE3, t. 6, c. 139-140. 

142 KD. /lapMH, c. 74, 174, 175, 308. 

143 Tawi we, c. 150-152, 233-234. 

144 M3BecTna, 1928, 1 Man, c. 4. 

145 M3BecTna, 1927, 13 vuonn, c. 4. 
146Taw\ >Ke. 

147 KE3, t. 2, c.552,t. 4, c. 599. 

148 T. Apohcoh. EBpePicKMM Bonpoc b snoxy CrayiMHa // KPE-2, c. 137. 

149 KD. /lapMH, c. 97-98, 236. 
150TaM>xe, c. 206. 

151 KE3, T.4, c. 600. 

152 KE3, t. 2, c. 554. 
153Tawi we, c. 354. 

154 T. Apohcoh. EBpeficKMM Bonpoc b snoxy CrayiMHa // KPE-2, c. 137. 

155 KE3, t. 2, c. 554. 

156XpymeB m mm4> o Enpo6nfl>KaHe // Cou,na^MCTMHecKMM BecTHMK, Hbio-MopK, 1958, N2 7-8, c. 142-143. 

157 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., 1981, Vol. X., p. 817,clmn. 2. 

158 KE3*, T. 1, c. 445-446. 159 KD. /lapMH, c. 183-184. 

160 XpymeB m mmc|) o Bnpo6nfl>KaHe // Cou,na^MCTMHecKMM BecTHMK* 1958, N27-8, c. 144. 

161 KD. /lapMH, c. 188,189. 


162 KE3, t. 1, c. 448, t. 8, c. 188. 

163 KD. /lapMH, c. 184, 186-189. 

164 KE3, t. 8, c. 188. 

165 KE3, t. 8, c. 146. 
166Taw\ we, c. 165-166. 
167Tawi we, c. 166. 

168 KE3, t. 7, c. 947. 

169 KE3, t. 2, c. 465. 

170 T. Apohcoh. EBpeMCKMM Bonpoc b snoxy CrayiMHa // KPE-2, c. 137. 

171 KE3, t. 2, c. 465. 

172 E. Op-noB. Poccufl 6es eBpeeB // "22," 1988, N2 60, c. 161. 

173 Leonard Schapiro.The Role of the Jews in the Russian Revolutionary Movement //The Slavonic and East 
European Review, vol.40, 1961-62, p. 167. 

174 K eBpeawi Bcex crpaHl // PmE, c. 5. 

175 fl.C. riacMa hmk. Hero we mm flo6nBaew\cfl? // PmE, c. 214. 

176 Oh we. PyccKaa peBO^K)u,Mfl m eBpeMCTBO*, c. 195. 

177 KE3, t. 2, c. 439, PE3, t. 2, c. 432, E. Op^OB. Poccma 6e3 eBpeeB // "22," 1988. N2 60, c. 161. 

178 14. Cyiyu,KMM. Cyflb6a mbpmt b Poccmm // KPE-2, c. 241-242, 246. 

179 KE3, t. 2, c. 422. 

180 C. LLlBapu,. EBpen b CoBeTCKOM Coto3e c Hanayia Btopom mmpobom BOMHbi (1939-1965). Hbto-MopK: M3fl. 
AwiepuKaHCKoro EBpeficKoro Pa6onero KowiMTeTa, 1966, c. 407. 

181 KD. /lapMH, c. 56. 

182 KE3, t. 1, c. 326, t. 2, c.465,t. 6, c. 125. 

183 KD. MapK. EBpeficKaa b CoBeTCKOM Corae // KPE-2, c. 235-238. 

184 KE3, t. 8, c.175. 

185 Taw\ we, c. 177-179, PE3, t. 2, c. 195-196. 

186 KD. MapK. /lmepaTypa Ha Mflniu b CoBeTCKOM Poccmm // KPE-2, c. 224-229. 

187 14. Cyiyu,KMM. Cyflb6a mbpmt b Poccmm // KPE-2, c. 245, 247. 


188 KE3, t. 8, c. 174, 181-182. 

189 T. CBeT. EBpeMCKMM TeaTp b CoBeTCKOM Poccmm // KPE-2, c. 266-271. 

190 KE3, t. 9, c. 477. 

191 KE3, t.4, c. 616. 

192 T. CBeT. EBpeMCKMM TeaTp... // KPE-2, c. 273-278. 

193 KE3, t. 8, c. 183. 

194 B. /leBMTMHa . Ctom^o^m OKuraTb cbom xpawi...// "22," 1984, N2 34, c. 204. 

195 14. E. LUexTMa h. CoBeTCKaa Poccma, cmohm3m m I43pan.nb // KPE-2. 321-323. 

196 KE3, t. 8, c. 200. 
197TaM>xe, c. 201. 

198 KE3, t. 5, c. 476, t. 7, c. 948. 

199 Muxan^ XeMc^eu,. BocnowiMHaHUM rpycTHbm cbmtok. Mepyca^MM, 1996, c. 74-79. 

200 14. E. LUexTMa h. CoBeTCKaa Poccma, cmohm3m m I43pan.nb // KPE-2, c. 324-325. 
201A.C. nacwiaHMK. Hero >Ke mm flo6nBaeMCfl? // PmE, c, 214. 

202 KE3, t. 7, c. 948. 14. E. LUexTMa h. CoBeTCKaa Poccma, cmohm3M m I43pamib// KPE-2, c. 325-328. 

203 14. M. EnKepwia h. Poccma m pyccKoe eBpeficTBO // PmE, c. 92. 
204Taw\ >Ke, c, 53. 

205 14.0 JleBMH. EBpen b peBO^K)u,nn // PmE, c. 138. 

206 T.A. /laHflay. PeBO^K)u,MOHHbie Mflen BeBpeficKofi o6mecTBeHHOc™ //PmE, c. 118. 

207 KE3, t. 8, c. 199. 

208 T.E. C^M036epr. fleyia MMHyBUJMX flHefi: 3anncKM pyccKoro eBpea. riapn>K, 1934. T. 3, c. 376. 

209 Ct. 14 Ba hobmh. EBpen m coBeTCKaa flMKTaTypa // EM-1, c. 47. 
210Jerusalem Post, 1973, April 13, 1979, October 7. 

211 Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der Lugen: Rufiland und die Juden im20. Jahrhundert. Berl i n: Siedl er Verlag. 
1992, S. 106. 

212 M. ArypcKMM. V\p,eonorv\n Hau,MOHa^-6o^biueBM3Ma, c. 114. 

213 KE3, t. 1, c. 235. 


214 C. no3Hep. CcmeTCKafl Poccma*// EM-1, c. 271. 

215 K). /lapMH*, c. 304. 

216 KE3, t. 8, c. 194. 

217 noxofl Ha CMHarorn b Cobctckom Poccmm* // EBpeMCKaa Tpn6yHa, 1922, 21 anpeyia (N2 120), c. 7. 

218 KE3, t. 8, c. 196. 

219 T. CBeT. EBpeMCKaa pe^Mrna b Cobctckom Poccmm // KPE-2, c. 205-207. 

220 KE3, t. 8, c. 194. 
221TaM>xe, c. 195. 

222 T. CBeT. EBpeMCKaa penv\rv\n... // KPE-2, c. 209. 

223 KE3, t.4, c. 257. 

224 KE3, t. 8, c. 195. 

225 T. CBeT. EBpeMCKaa pe^MTMfl... // KPE-2, c. 208. 

226 KE3, t. 8, c. 197. 
227 Ta/v\ >xe, c. 198. 

228 T. CBeT. EBpeMCKajq pe^MrMfl... // KPE-2, c. 208-209. 

229 KE3, t. 8, c. 199. 

230 KD. /lapMH, c.285. 

231 14. Cnyu,KMM. Cyflb6a mbpmt b Poccmm // KPE-2, c. 246. 

232 CopoK copoKOB: Anb6ow\-yKa3aTe.nb Bcex mockobckmx u,ep KBeM: B 4 t. / Coct. C. 3BOHape - B [n. nayiawiapnyK]. 
riapMMK, YMCA-Press, 1988. T. 1, c. 13. C. l~lo3Hep. CoBeTCKaa Poccma // EM-1, c. 271. 

233 M. nonoBCKMM. O Hac — co BceM MCKpeHHOCTbio // HoBbiM awiepMKaHeu,, 1981, 20-26 ceHTfl6pa (N° 84), c. 7. 

234 KE3, t. 4, c. 275, PE3, t. 3, c. 439. 

235 KE3, t. 1, c. 653. 

236 KE3, t.4, c. 276-277. 

237 A. TbipKOBa-BM.n-bflMC. TeHM MMHyBiuero // BM, Hbio-MopK, 1990, N2 111, c. 214-215. 

238 KE3, t.4, c. 860-862. 

239 KE3, t. 1, c. 547. 


240 KE3, t. 5, c. 541-542; PE3, t. 2, c. 86-87. 

241 PE3, T.l, c. 377. 

242 PE3, t. 2, c. 287. 

243 PE3, T.l, c.288, 409. 

244 PE3, t. 3, c. 336. 

245 M. ArypcKMM. \Ap,eonorm Hau,noHa^-6o^biueBM3Ma, c. 240. 
246Tawi>Ke, c. 240-242, 244. 

247M3BecTMfl, 1927, 13 OKTfl6pa, c.2. 

248 Em. flpocyia bckmm. ripoTMB a HTMceMMTH3Ma // ripaBfla, 1927, 12 HOfl6pa, c. 2. 

249M3BecTna, 1927, 11 fleKa6pa, c. 1. 

250Taw\ >Ke, 22 AeKa6pa, c. 2-4, 23 fleKa6pa, c. 4, 5. 

251 PE3, t. 2, c. 93, t. 3, c. 497. 

252 Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der Lugen: Rufiland und die Juden im20. Jahrhundert. S. 84. 

253 M. rionoBCKMM . O Hac — co Bcefi MCKpeHHOCTbio // HoBbm awiepuKaHeu,, 1981, 20-26 ceHTfl6pa (N° 84), c. 7. 

254 H. CewiawKO. EBpen Ha 3ew\.ne // l43Bec™a, 1927, 20 aBrycTa, c. 3. 

255 S. Ettinger // Bulletin on Soviet and East European Jewish Affairs, 1970, N2 5, p. 38-39. 
256npaBfla, 1925, 13 aBrycTa, c. 3. 

257CopoK CopoKOB: Anb6ow\-yKa3aTe^b Bcex mockobckmx u,epKBeti. T. 1* c. 15. 
258Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der Ltigen: Rufiland und dieJuden im 20. Jahrhundert. S. 79. 

259 A. BopoHe^b. TpeneT nyfleticKnx 3a6oT. 2-e M3fl. PawiaT-TaH: MocKBa-Mepyca^MM, 1981, c. 120. 

260 M3BecTMfl, 1930, 22 cema6pn, c. 1, 3-4, 25 cema6pa, c. 1. 

261 fl. LUTypwiaH. Ohm - Befla^n // "22," 1990, N2 73, c. 126-144. 

262 14. 3yHfle^eBMH. BocxowfleHMe // "22," 1983, N2 29, c. 54. 

263 Sonja Margol ina. Das Ende der Lugen: Rufiland und dieJuden im20. Jahrhundert. S. 144-145. 

264 T. LUypwtaK. LUy^brnH m ero ano^oreTbi // HoBbm winp, 1994, N° 11, c. 244. 


Chapter 19: In the 1930s 

The 1930s were years of an intense industrialized spurt, which crushed the peasantry and 
altered the life of the entire country. Mere existence demanded adaptation and 
development of new skills. But through crippling sacrifices, and despite the many absurdities 
of the Soviet organizational system, the horrible epic somehow led to the creation of an 
industrialized power. 

Yet the first and second five-year plans came into existence and were carried out not 
through the miracle of spontaneous generation, nor as a result of the simple violent round- 
up of large masses of laborers. It demanded many technical provisions, advanced equipment, 
and the collaboration of specialists experienced in this technology. All this flowed plentifully 
from the capitalist West, and most of all from the United States; not in the form of a gift, of 
course, and not in the form of generous help. The Soviet communists paid for all of this 
abundantly with Russia's mineral wealth and timber, with concessions for raw materials 
markets, with trade areas promised to the West, and with plundered goods from the Empire 
of the tsars. Such deals flowed with the help and approval of international financial 
magnates, most of all those on Wall Street, in a persistent continuation of the first 
commercial ties that the Soviet communists developed on the American stock exchanges as 
early as during the Civil War. The new partnership was strengthened by shiploads of tsarist 
gold and treasures from the Hermitage. 

But wait a second, were we not thoroughly taught by Marx that capitalists are the fierce 
enemies of proletarian socialism and that we should not expect help from them, but rather a 
destructive, bloody war? Well, it's not that simple: despite the official diplomatic non- 
recognition, trade links were completely out in the open, and even written about in 
Izvestiya: "American merchants are interested in broadening of economic ties with the 
Soviet Union."[l] American unions came out against such an expansion (defending their 
markets from the products of cheap and even slave Soviet labor). The "Russian-American 
Chamber of Commerce," created at that time, simply did not want to hear about any 
political opposition to communism, or "to mix politics with business relations. "[2] 

Anthony Sutton, a modern American scholar, researched the recently-opened diplomatic 
and financial archives and followed the connections of Wall Street with the Bolsheviks; he 
pointed to the amoral logic of this long and consistent relationship. From as early as the 
"Marburg" plan at the beginning of the 20th century, which was based on the vast capital of 
Carnegie, the idea was to strengthen the authority of international finance, through global 
"socialization," "for control ... and for the forced appeasement." Sutton concluded that: 
"International financiers prefer to do business with central governments. The banking 
community least of all wants a free economy and de -centralized authority." "Revolution and 
international finance do not quite contradict each other, if the result of revolution should be 
to establish a more centralized authority," and, therefore, to make the markets of these 


countries manageable. And there was a second line of agreement: "Bolsheviks and bankers 
shared an essential common platform — internationalism. "[3] 

In that light, the subsequent support of "collective enterprises and the mass destruction of 
individual rights by Morgan-Rockefeller" was not surprising. In justification of this support, 
they claimed in Senate hearings: "Why should a great industrial country, like America, desire 
the creation and subsequent competition of another great industrial rival?"[4] Well, they 
rightly believed that with such an obviously uncompetitive, centralized and totalitarian 
regime, Soviet Russia could not rival America. Another thing is that Wall Street could not 
predict further development of the Bolshevik system, nor its extraordinary ability to control 
people, working them to the very bone, which eventually led to the creation of a powerful, if 
misshapen, industry. 

But how does this tie in with our basic theme? Because as we have seen, American financiers 
completely refused loans to pre-revolutionary Russia due to the infringement of the rights of 
Jews there, even though Russia was always a profitable financial prospect. And clearly, if 
they were prepared to sacrifice profits at that time, then now, despite all their counting on 
the Soviet markets, the "Morgan-Rockefeller Empire" would not assistthe Bolsheviks if the 
persecution of the Jews was looming on horizon in the USSR at the start of the 1930s. 

That's just the point: for the West, the previously described Soviet oppression of the 
traditional Jewish culture and of Zionists easily disappeared under the contemporary general 
impression that the Soviet power would not oppress the Jews, but on the contrary, that 
many of them would remain at the levers of power. 

Certain pictures of the past have the ability to conveniently rearrange in our mind in order to 
soothe our consciousness. And today a perception has formed that in the 1930s the Jews 
were already forced out of the Soviet ruling elite and had nothing to do with the 
administration of the country. In the 1980s we see assertions like this: in the Soviet times, 
the Jews in the USSR were "practically destroyed as a people; they had been turned into a 
social group, which was settled in the large cities "as a social stratum to serve the ruling 

No. Not only far from "serving", the Jews were to the large extent members of the "ruling 
class." And the "large cities," the capitals of the constituent Soviet republics, were the very 
thing the authorities bought off through improved provisioning, furnishing and maintenance, 
while the rest of the country languished from oppression and poverty. And now, after the 
shock of the Civil War, after the War Communism, after the NEP and the first five -year plan, 
it was the peace-time life of the country that was increasingly managed by the government 
apparatus, in which the role of the Jews was quite conspicuous, at least until 1937-38. 

In 1936, at the 8th Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union, Molotov, on orders from Stalin 
(perhaps to differ from Hitler in the eyes of the West) delivered this tirade: "Our brotherly 
feelings toward the Jewish people are determined by the fact that they begat the genius and 


the creator of the ideas of the communist liberation of Mankind," Karl Marx; "that the 
Jewish people, alongside the most developed nations, brought forth countless prominent 
scientists, engineers, and artists [that undoubtedly had already manifested itself in the 
Soviet 1930s, and will be even more manifest in the post-war years], and gave many glorious 
heroes to the revolutionary struggle ... and in our country they gave and are still giving new, 
remarkable, and talented leaders and managers in all areas of development and defense of 
the Cause of Socialism. "[6] 

The italics are mine. No doubt, it was said for propaganda purposes. But Molotov's 
declaration was appropriate. And the "defense of the Cause of Socialism" during all those 
years was in the hands of the GPU, the army, diplomacy, and the ideological front. The 
willing participation of so many Jews in these organs continued in the early and mid-1930s, 
until 1937-38. 

Here we will briefly review - according to contemporary newspapers, later publications, and 
modern Jewish encyclopedias - the most important posts and names that had emerged 
mainly in the 1930s. Of course, such a review, complicated by the fact that we know nothing 
about how our characters identified themselves in regard to nationality, may contain 
mistakes in individual cases and can in no way be considered comprehensive. 

After the destruction of the "Trotskyite opposition," the Jewish representation in the party 
apparatus became noticeably reduced. But that purge of the supreme party apparatus was 
absolutely not anti-Jewish. Lazar Kaganovich retained his extremely prominent position in 
the Politburo; he was an ominously merciless individual and, at the same time, a man of 
notoriously low proffessional level. (Nevertheless, from the mid-1930s he was the Secretary 
of the Central Committee, and simultaneously a member of the Organizational Bureau of the 
Central Committee — only Stalin himself held both these positions at the same time). And he 
placed three of his brothers in quite important posts. Mikhail Kaganovich was deputy chair 
of the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy beginning in 1931; from 1937 he was 
narkom (narodny komissar, that is, "people's commissar") of the defense industry; later he 
simultaneously headed the aviation industry. Yuli Kaganovich, passing through the leading 
party posts in Nizhniy Novgorod (as all the brothers did), became deputy narkom of the 
foreign trade. [7] (Another, absolutely untalented brother, was a "big gun" in Rostov-on-Don. 
It reminds me of a story by Saltykov-Shchedrin, where one Vooz Oshmyanskiy tried to place 
his brother Lazar in a profitable post). However, both the ethnic Russian opposition factions, 
that of Rykov, Bukharin and Tomsky, and that of Syrtsov, Ryutin, and Uglanov, were 
destroyed by Stalin in the beginning of the 1930s with support of the Jewish Bolsheviks — he 
drew necessary replacements from their ranks. Kaganovich was the principal and the most 
reliable of Stalin's supporters in the Politburo: he demanded the execution of Ryutin 
(October 1932-January 1933) but even Stalin wasn't able to manage it then. [8] The purge of 
1930-1933 dealt with the Russian elements in the party. 


Out of 25 members in the Presidium of the Central Control Commission after the 16th Party 
Congress (1930), 10 were Jews: A. Solts, "the conscience of the Party" (in the bloodiest years 
from 1934 to 1938 was assistant to Vys hi nsky, the General Prosecutor of the USSR [9]); Z. 
Belenky (one of the three above-mentioned Belenky brothers); A. Goltsman (who supported 
Trotsky in the debate on trade unions); ferocious Rozaliya Zemlyachka (Zalkind); M. 
Kaganovich, another of the brothers; the ChekistTrilisser; the "militant atheist" Yaroslavsky; 
B. Roizenman; and A.P. Rozengolts, the surviving assistant of Trotsky. If one compares the 
composition of the party's Central Committee in the 1920s with that in the early 1930s, he 
would find that it was almost unchanged — both in 1925 as well as afterthe 16th Party 
Congress, Jews comprised around 1/6 of the membership. [10] 

In the upper echelons of the communist party afterthe 17th Congress ("the congress of the 
victors") in 1934, Jews remained at 1/6 of the membership of the Central Committee; in the 
Party Control Commission — around 1/3, and a similar proportion in the Revision 
Commission of the Central Committee. (It was headed for quite a while by M. Vladimirsky. 
From 1934 Lazar Kaganovich took the reins of the Central Control Commission). Jews made 
up the same proportion (1/3) of the members of the Commission of the Soviet Control. [11] 
For five years filled with upheaval (1934-1939) the deputy General Prosecutor of the USSR 
wasGrigory Leplevsky.[12] 

Occupants of many crucial party posts were not even announced in Pravda. For instance, in 
autumn 1936 the Secretary of the Central Committee of Komsomol (the Union of 
Communist Youth) was E. Fainberg.[13] The Department of the Press and Publishing of the 
Central Committee - the key ideological establishment - was managed by B. Tal. Previously, 
the department was headed by Lev Mekhlis, who had by then shifted to managing Pravda 
full-time; from 1937 Mekhlis became deputy narkom of defense and the head of Political 
Administration of the Red Army. 

We see many Jews in the command posts in provinces: in the Central Asia Bureau, the 
Eastern Siberia Krai Party Committee (kraikom), in the posts of first secretaries of the 
obkoms [party committee of oblasts] of the Volga German Republic, the Tatar, Bashkir, 
Tomsk, Kalinin, and Voronezh oblasts and in many others. For example, Mendel Khatayevich 
(a member of the Central Committee from 1930) was consequently secretary of Gomel, 
Odessa, Tatar, and Dnepropetrovsk obkoms, secretary of the Middle Volga kraikom, and 
second secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine. Yakov Chubin was secretary of the 
Chernigov and Akmolinsk obkoms and of the Shakhtinsk district party committee; later he 
served in several commissions of the Party Control in Moscow, Crimea, Kursk, and 
Turkmenia, and from 1937 he was the first secretary of the Central Committee of 
Turkmenia.[14] There is no need to list all such names, but let's not overlook the real 
contribution of these secretaries into the Bolshevik cause; also note their striking 
geographical mobility, as in the 1920s. Reliable cadres were still in much demand and 


indispensable. And there was no concern that they lacked knowledge of each new locality of 
which they took charge. 

Yet much more power was in the hands of the narkoms. In 1936 we see nine Jewish narkoms 
in the Government. Take the worldwide-famous narkom of foreign affairs Litvinov(in the 
friendly cartoons in Izvestiya, he was portrayed as a knight of peace with a spearand shield 
taking a stand against foreign filth); no less remarkable, but only within the limits of the 
USSR, was the narkom of internal affairs Yagoda; the ascending and all-glorious "Iron 
Narkom" of railroads, Lazar Kaganovich; foreign trade was headed by A. Rozengo Its (before 
that we saw him in the Central Control Commission); I.Ya. Weitser was in charge of domestic 
trade; M. Kalmanovich was in charge of sovkhozes [state owned farms that paid wages] (he 
was the foods-commissar from the end of 1917); I.E. Lyubimov was narkom of light industry; 
G. Kaminskiy was narkom of healthcare, his instructive articles were often published in 
Izvestiya; and the above-mentioned Z. Belenky was the head of the Commission of the Soviet 
Control. [15] In the same Government we can find many Jewish names among the deputy 
narkoms in various people's commissariats: finance, communications, railroad transport, 
water, agriculture, the timber industry, the foodstuffs industry, education, justice. Among 
the most important deputy narkoms were: Ya. Gamarnik (defense), A. Gurevich ("he made a 
significant contribution to the creation of the metallurgical industry in the country"[16]); 
Semyon Ginzburg, he was deputy narkom of heavy industry, and later he became narkom of 
construction, and even later minister of construction of military enterprises. [17] 

The famous "Great Turning Point" took place place from the end of 1929 to the beginning of 
1931. Murderous collectivization lay ahead, and at this decisive moment Stalin assigned 
Yakovlev-Epshtein as its sinister principal executive. His portraits and photos, and drawings 
by I. Brodsky, were prominently reproduced in newspapers then and later, from year to 
year.[18] Together with the already mentioned M. Kalmanovich, he was a member of the 
very top Soviet of Labor and Defense (there was hardly anyone apart from Stalin, Molotov, 
Mikoyan, Ordzhonikidze, Voroshilov in that organ). [19] In March of 1931, at the 6th Session 
of Soviets, Yakovlev reported on the progress of collectivization - about the development of 
sovkhozes and kolkhozes (that is, the destruction of the way of life of the people). [20] On 
this 'glorious' path to the ruination of Russia, among Yakovlev's collaborators, we can see 
deputy narkom V.G. Feigin, members of the Board of the people's commissariat of 
agriculture M.M. Volf, G.G. Roshal, and other 'experts'. The important organization, the 
Grain Trust, was attached to the people's commissariat of agriculture to pump out grain 
from peasants for the state; the chairman of the board of directors was M.G. Gerchikov, his 
portraits appeared in Izvestiya, and Stalin himself sent him a telegram of 
encouragement. [21] From 1932 the People's Commissariat of Sovkhozes and Kolkhozes with 
M. Kalmanovich at the helm was separated from the people's commissariat of 
agriculture. [22] From 1934 the chairman of the national Soviet of Kolkhozes was the same 
Yakovlev-Epshtein. [23] The chairman of the Commission of Purveyance was I. Kleiner (who 
was awarded the Order of Lenin). During the most terrible months of collectivization, M. 


Kalmanovich was deputy narkom of agriculture. But at the end of 1930 he was transferred 
into the People's Commissariat of Finance as deputy narkom; he also became chairman of 
the board of the Gosbank [The State Bank], for in monetary matters a strong will was also 
much needed. In 1936, Lev Maryasin became chairman of the board of the Gosbank; he was 
replaced in that post by Solomon Krutikov in 1936. [24] 

In November 1930 the People's Commissariat of Foreign Trade was created, and A.P. 
Rozengolts served for seven years as its head. Jews comprised one-third of its board 
members. Among them wasSh. Dvoylatsky, who simultaneously served in the Central 
Commissions on Concessions; in 1934-1936 he became the Soviet trade representative in 
France. [25] At the end of 1930 the People's Commissariat of Supply was created with A. 
Mikoyan at the helm; on its board we see M. Belenky — that is another, actually the fifth, 
man with the surname "Belenky" encountered here; soon he himself became the narkom, 
replacing Mikoyan. In general, in the People's Commisariats of Trade and Supply, the Jewish 
component was higher than in the upper party echelons — from a quarter to a half. Still let's 
not overlook the Tsentrosoyuz (the bureaucratic center of Soviet pseudo-cooperation). After 
Lev Khichuk in the 1920s, it was managed from 1931 to 1937 by I. A. Zelensky, whom we met 
earlier as a member of the board of the people's commissariat of foodstuffs. [26] 

Let me point it out once more: all these examples are for illustrative purposes only. They 
should not be taken to create the impression that there were no members of other 
nationalities on all those boards and in the presidiums; of course there were. Moreover, all 
the above-mentioned people occupied their posts only for a while; they were routinely 
transferred between various important positions. 

Let's look at transport and communications. First, railroads were managed by M. 
Rukhimovich (his portraits could be found in the major newspapers of the time[27]); later he 
became narkom of defense industry (with M. Kaganovich as his deputy), while the command 
over railroads was given to L. Kaganovich. [28] There were important changes in the Coal 
Trust: I. Schwartz was removed from the board and M. Deych was assigned to replace 
him. [29] T. Rozenoer managed Grozneft [Grozny Oil]. YakovGugel headed the construction 
of the Magnitogorsk metallurgical giant; Yakov Vesnik was the director of the Krivoy Rog 
Metallurgical industrial complex; and the hell of the Kuznetsk industrial complex with its 
200,000 hungry and ragged workers was supervised by S. Frankfurt, and after him by I. 
Epshtein (the latter was arrested in 1938 but landed on his feet because he was sent to take 
command over the construction of the Norilsk industrial complex). [30] 

The Supreme Soviet of the National Economy still existed, but its significance waned. After 
Unshlikht, it was headed by A. Rozengolts, and then by Ordzhonikidze, with Jews comprising 
the majority of its board. [31] 

At that time, the Gosplan [state planning ministry] gathered strength. In 1931, under the 
chairmanship of Kuibyshev, Jews comprised more than half of its 18-member board. [32] 


Let's now examine the top posts in economy during the "last burgeoning year" of Stalin's era, 
1936. In 1936 Izvestiya published[33] the complete roster of the board of the people's 
commissariat of domestic trade. Those 135 individuals had essentially ruled over the entire 
domestic trade in the USSR (and they were hardly disinterested men). Jews comprised 
almost 40% of this list, including two deputies to the narkom, several trade inspectors, 
numerous heads of food and manufactured goods trades in the oblasts, heads of consumer 
unions, restaurant trusts, cafeterias, food supplies and storage, heads of train dining cars 
and railroad buffets; and of course, the head of Gastronom No.l in Moscow ("Eliseyevsky") 
was also a Jew. Naturally, all this facilitated smooth running of the industry in those far from 
prosperous years. 

In the pages of Izvestiya one could read headlines like this: "The management of the Union's 
Fishing Trust made major political mistakes." As a result, Moisei Frumkin was relieved of his 
post at the board of the People's Commissariat of Ddomestic Trade (we saw hi m in the 
1920s as a deputy of the Narkom of Foreign Trade). Comrade Frumkin was punished with a 
stern reprimand and a warning; comrade Kleiman suffered the same punishment; and 
comrade Nepryakhin was expel led from the party.[34] 

Soon after that, Izvestiya published[35] an addendum to the roster of the People's 
Commissariat of Heavy Industry with 215 names in it. Those wishing to can delve into it as 
well. A present-day author thus writes about those people: by the 1930s "the children of the 
declasse Jewish petty bourgeois succeeded ... in becoming the 'commanders' of the "great 
construction projects." And so it appeared to those who, putting in 16 hours a day for weeks 
and months, never leaving the foundation pits, the swamps, the deserts, and taiga that it 
was "their country."[36] However, the author is wrong: it was the blackened hard-workers 
and yesterday's peasants, who had no respite from toiling in foundation pits and swamps, 
while the directors only occasionally promenaded there; they mainly spent time in offices 
enjoying their special provision services ("the bronze foremen"). But undoubtedly, their 
harsh and strong-willed decisions helped to bring these construction projects to completion, 
building up the industrial potential of the USSR. 

Thus the Soviet Jews obtained a weighty share of state, industrial, and economic power at all 
levels of government inthe USSR. 


The personality of B. Roizenman merits particular attention. See for yourself: he received the 
Order of Lenin "in recognition of his exceptional services" inthe adjustment of the state 
apparatus "to the objectives of the large-scale offensive for Socialism." What secrets, 
inscrutable to us, could be hidden behind this "offensive"? We can glance into some of them 
from the more direct wording: for carrying out "special missions of top state importance on 
the clean-up of state apparatus in the Soviet diplomatic missions abroad. "[37] 


Now let's look at the state of affairs in diplomacy. The 1920s were examined in the 
preceding chapter. Now we encounter other important people. For example, in spring of 
1930, Izvestiya reported on page 1 and under a separate heading that "F.A. Rotshtein, the 
board member of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, returned from vacationand 
resumed his duties. "[38] (Well, didn't they only write this way about Stalin? To the best of 
my knowledge, neither Ordzhonikidze, nor Mikoyan -other very top functionaries - was 
honored in such a way?) Yet very soon Rotshtein made a slip and his career ended just two 
months later, in July 1930. With the designation of Litvinov as narkom, Rotshtein was 
removed from the board (even though, we may remember, he claimed credit for the 
creation of the British Communist Party). In the 1930s, at the peak of Litvinov' s power, anew 
generation appeared. The Jewish Encyclopedia writes: "there was a notion of 'the Litvinov 
school of diplomacy'" that included the outstanding personalities of K. Umansky, Ya. Surits, B. 
Shtein (he was already successful by the beginning of the 1920s) and E. Gnedin (son of 
Parvus). [39] Ehrenburg added here the name of E. Rubinin. Just as in the 1920s diplomacy 
attracted a cadre of Jews, so it did through the early and mid-1930s. From the moment the 
USSR was accepted into the League of Nations, we see Litvinov, Shtein, Gnedin, and also 
Brenner, Stashevsky, Marcus, Rozenberg, and Svanidze (a Georgian) as the senior members 
of the Soviet delegation. It was these people who represented Soviet Russia at that forum of 
nations. There were Soviet plenipotentiaries in Europe of Jewish origin: in England — 
Maisky; in Germany (and later in France)— Ya. Surits; in Italy— B. Shtein (after Kamenev); we 
also see Jewish plenipotentiaries in Spain, Austria, Romania, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia, 
Belgium, Norway, and in Asia. For example, the above-mentioned Surits represented the 
Soviet Union in Afghanistan as early as the Russian Civil War; later, from 1936, B. Skvirsky 
served in Afghanistan; for many years he was was the unofficial Soviet representative in 
Washington. [40] In the early and mid-1930s, a great number of Jews successfully continued 
to work in Soviet trade delegations. (Here we find another Belenky, already the sixth 
individual of that name, B.S.Belenky, who was the trade representative in Italy from 1934 to 
1937). [41] 

Concerning the Red Army, the aforementioned Israeli researcher, Aron Abramovich, writes 
that in the 1930s "a significant number of Jewish officers served" in the army. "There were 
many of them, in particular in the Revolutionary Military Soviet, in the central 
administrations of the people's commissariat of defense, in the general staff, and at lower 
levels - in the military districts, in the armies, corps, divisions, brigades, and all military units. 
The Jews still played a prominent role in the political organs." [42] The entire Central Political 
Administration of the Red Army came under command of the trustworthy Mekhlis after the 
suicide of the trustworthy Gamarnik. Here are several names from the cream of the Political 
Administration: Mordukh Khorosh was the deputy director of the Political Administration of 
the Red Army in the 1930s, and later, until his arrest, he was in charge of the Political 
Administration of the Kiev military district. From 1929 through to 1937, Lazar Aronshtam 
headed the political administration of the Belorussian military district, then of the Special Far 
Eastern Army, and later -of the Moscow military district. IsaakGrinberg was the Senior 


Inspector of the Political Administration of the Red Army, and later the deputy director of 
the Political Administration of the Leningrad district. Boris Ippo (he participated in the 
pacification of Central Asia during the Civil War as the head of the Political Administration of 
the Turkestan Front and laterofthe Central-Asian district) was the head of the political 
administration of the Caucasus Red Army; and later the director of the Military Political 
Academy. The already-mentioned Mikhail Landa from 1930 to 1937 was the chief editor of 
Krasnaya Zvezda (The Red Star, the official newspaper of the Soviet military). Naum Rozovsky 
was a military prosecutor since the Civil War; by 1936 he was the chief military prosecutor of 
the Red Army. [43] 

Gamarnik remained the deputy to Voroshilov, the chairman of the Revolutionary Military 
Soviet until 1934 (when the organization was disbanded). In the 1930s, in addition to those 
named in the previous chapter, among the heads of the central administrations of the Red 
Army, we encounter the following individuals: Abram Volp (the head of the Administrative 
Mobilization Administration; in the previous chapter he was identified as the chief of staff of 
the Moscow military district), Semyon Uritsky (of the Military Intelligence Administration, 
until 1937), Boris Feldman - the head of the Central Personnel Administration, and Leontiy 
Kotlyar — the head of the Central Military Engineering Administration in the pre-war years. 
Among the commanders of the branches of the military we find A. Goltsman, the head of 
military aviation from 1932 (we already saw him in the Central Control Commission, and as a 
union activist; he died in a plane crash). Among the commanders of the military districts we 
again see lona Yakir (Crimean district, and later the important Kiev District), and Lev Gordon 
(Turkestan district). [44] Although we have no data on Jewish representation in the lower 
ranks, there is little doubt that when a structure (be it a political administration of the army, 
a supply service, or a party or a commissariat apparatus) was headed by a Jew, it was 
accompanied, as a rule, by a quite noticeable Jewish presence among its staff. 

Yet service in the army is not a vice; it can be quite constructive. So what about our good old 
GPU-NKVD? A modern researcher, relying on archives, writes: "The first half of the 1930s 
was characterized by the increasingly important role of Jews in the state security apparatus." 
And "on the eve of the most massive repressions ...the ethnic composition of the supreme 
command of the NKVD ... [can be understood with the help of] the list of decorated Chekists 
on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Cheka-OGPU-NKVD. The list of 407 senior 
officials published in the central press contained 56 Jews (13.8%), and 7 Latvians (1.7%). "[45] 

When the GPU was reformed into the NKVD (1934) with Yagoda at the head, they twice 
published the names of the supreme commissars of the NKVD (what a rare chance to peek 
behind a usually impenetrable wall[46]!): commissars of State Security of the 1st Rank Ya.S. 
Agranov (the first deputy to Yagoda), V. A. Balitsky, T.D. Deribas, G.E. Prokovev, S.F. Redens, 
L.M. Zakovsky; of the 2nd Rank: L.N. Belskiy, K.V. Pauker (they were already decorated in 
1927 on the decennial of the Cheka), M.I. Gay, S.A. Goglidze, L.B. Zalin, Z.B. Kats nelson, K.M. 
Karlson, I.M. Leplevsky, G.A. Molchanov, L.G. Mironov, A.A. Slutsky, A.M. Shanin, and R.A. 


Pillyar. Of course, not all of them were Jews but a good half were. So, the Jewish Chekists 
were still there; they didn't leave, nor were they forced out of the NKVD, the same NKVD 
which was devouring the country after the death of Kirov, and which later devoured itself. 

A.A. Slutsky was the director of the NKVD's foreign section; that is, he was in charge of 
espionage abroad. "His deputies were Boris Berman and Sergey Shpigelglas." Paukerwas a 
barber from Budapest, who connected with the communists while he was a Russian POW in 
1916. Initially, he was in charge of the Kremlin security and later became the head of the 
operations section of the NKVD. [47] Of course, due to secrecy and the non-approachability 
of these highly placed individuals, it is difficult to judge them conclusively. Take, for instance, 
Naum (Leonid) Etingon, who orchestrated the murder of Trotsky and was the organizer of 
the "Cambridge Five" espionage ring and who oversaw the nuclear espionage after the war 
— a true ace of espionage. [48] 

Or take LevFeldbin (he used a catchy pseudonym of 'Aleksandr Orlov'). A prominent and 
long-serving Chekist, he headed the economic section of the foreign department of GPU, 
that is, he supervised all foreign trade of the USSR. He was a trusted agent, of those who 
were instructed in the shroud of full secrecy on how "to extract false confessions [from the 
victims]." "Many [of the NKVD investigators] ended up being subordinate to him."[49] And 
yet he was completely hidden from the public and became famous only later, when he 
defected to the West. And how many such posts were there? 

Or take Mikhail Koltsov-Fridlyand ("the political advisor" to the Republican government of 
Spain)[50], who took part in some of the major GPU adventures. 

M. Berman was assigned as deputy to the Narkom of Internal Affairs Ezhov within three days 
after the latter was installed on September 27, 1936. Still, Berman remained the director of 
the GULag.[51] And along with Ezhov, came his handymen. Mikhail Litvin, his long-time 
associate in the Central Committee of the party, became the director of the personnel 
department of the NKVD; by May 1937 he rose to the unmatched rank of director of the 
Secret Political section of the Main Directorate of State Security of the NKVD. In 1931-36, 
Henri kh Lyushkov was the deputy director of that section; he deserted to Japan in 1938 and 
was then killed by a Japanese bullet in 1945 - by the end of the war the Japanese did not 
want to give him back and had no option but shoot him. In this way, we can extensively 
describe the careers of each of them. In the same section, Aleksandr Radzivilovsky was an 
"agent for special missions." Another long-time Ezhov colleague, Isaak Shapiro, was Ezhov's 
personal assistant from 1934, and then he became the director of the NKVD Secretariat, and 
later was the director of the infamous Special Section of the Main Directorate of State 
Security of the NKVD. [52] 

In December 1936, among the heads of ten sections (for secrecy, designated only by 
number) of the Main Directorate of State Security of the NKVD, we see seven Jews: the 
Security section (section #1)— K. Pauker; Counter-intelligence (3) — L. Mironov; Special 


section (5)— I. Leplevsky; Transport (6)— A. Shanin; Foreign section (7) — A. Slutsky; Records 
and Registration (8)— V. Tsesarsky; Prisons (10)— Ya. Veinshtok. Over the course of the meat- 
grinding year of 1937 several other Jews occupied posts of directors of those sections: A. 
Zalpeter— Operations section (2); Ya. Agra nov, followed by M. Litvin— Secret Political section 
(4); A Minaev-Tsikanovsky— Counter-intelligence (3); and I. Shapiro - Special section (9). [53] 

I named the leadership of the GULag in my book, GULag Archipelago. Yes, there was a large 
proportion of Jews among its command. (Portraits of the directors of construction of the 
White Sea-Baltic Canal, which I reproduced from the Soviet commemorative corpus of 1936, 
caused outrage: they claimed that I have selected the Jews only on purpose. But I did not 
select them, I've just reproduced the photographs of all the High Directors of the BelBaltlag 
[White Sea - Baltic Canal camp administration] from that immortal book. Am I guilty that 
they had turned out to be Jews? Who had selected them for those posts? Who is guilty?) I 
will now add information about three prominent men, whom I did not know then. Before 
the BelBaltlag, one Lazar Kogan worked as the head of the GULag; Zinovy Katsnelson was the 
deputy head of the GULag from 1934 onward; Izrail Plinerwasthe head of the GULag from 
1936, and later he oversaw the completion of construction of the Moscow-Volga Canal 
(1937). [54] 

It can't be denied that History elevated many Soviet Jews into the ranks of the arbiters of the 
fate of all Russians. 


Never publicized information about events of different times flows from different sources: 
about the regional Plenipotentiaries of GPU-NKVD in the 1930s (before 1937). The names of 
their offices fully deserved to be written in capital letters, for it was precisely them and not 
the secretaries of the obkoms, who were the supreme masters of their oblasts, masters of 
the life and death of any inhabitant, who reported directly only to the central NKVD in 
Moscow. The full names of some of them are known, while only initials remain from others; 
and still of others, we know only their last names. They moved from post to post, between 
different provinces. (If we could only find the dates and details of their service! Alas, all this 
was done in secret). And in all of the 1930s, many Jews remained among those provincial 
lords. According to the recently published data, in the regional organs of State Security, not 
counting the Main Directorate of State Security, there were 1,776 Jews (7.4% of the total 
members serving). [55] 

A few Jewish plenipotentiaries are listed here: in Belorussia - Izrail Leplevsky (brother of the 
deputy General Prosecutor Grigory Leplevsky, we already saw him in the Cheka; later, he 
worked in a senior post in the GPU as a Commissar of State Security of 2nd Rank; and now 
we see him as the Narkom of Internal Affairs of Belorussia from 1934 to 1936); in the 
Western Oblast- I.M. Blat, he later worked in Chelyabinsk; in the Ukraine -Z. Katsnelson, 
we saw him in the Civil Warall around the country, from the Caspian Sea to the White Sea. 


Now he was the deputy head of the GULag; later we see him as Deputy Narkom of Internal 
Affairs of Ukraine; in 1937 he was replaced by Leplevsky. We see D.M. Sokolinsky first In 
Donetsk Oblast and later in Vinnitsa Oblast; L.Ya. Faivilovich and Fridberg - in the Northern 
Caucasus; M.G. Raev-Kaminsky and Purnis - in Azerbaijan; G. Rappoport - in Stalingrad 
Oblast; P.Sh. Simanovsky - in Orlov Oblast; Livshits - in Tambov Oblast; G.Ya. Abrampolsky - 
in Gorkov Oblast; A.S. Shiyron, supervising the round-up of the dispossessed kulaks -in 
Arkhangel Oblast; I.Z. Ressin-inthe German Volga Republic; Zelikman - in Bashkiriya; N. 
Raysky- in Orenburg Oblast; G.I. Shklyar - in Sverdlovsk Oblast; L.B. Zalin - in Kazakhstan; 
Krukovsky - in Central Asia; Trotsky - in Eastern Siberia, and Rutkovsky - in the Northern 

All these high placed NKVD officials were tossed from one oblast to another in exactly the 
same manner as the secretaries of obkoms. Take, for instance, Vladimir Tsesarsky: was 
plenipotentiary of the GPU-NKVD in Odessa, Kiev and in the Far East. By 1937 he had risen to 
the head of the Special section of the Main Directorate of State Security of the NKVD (just 
before Shapiro). Or look at S. Mironov-Korol: in 1933-36 he was the head of the 
Dnepropetrovsk GPU-NKVD; in 1937 he was in charge of the Western Siberian NKVD; he also 
served in the central apparatus of the GPU-NKVD. [56] In the mid-1930s, we see L. Vul as the 
head of Moscow and later of Saratov Police. The plenipotentiary in Moscow was L. Belsky 
(after serving in Central Asia); later, he had risen to the head of the Internal Service Troops 
of the NKVD. In the 1930s we see many others: Foshan was in charge of the border troops; 
Meerson was the head of the Economic Planning section of the NKVD; L.I. Berenzon and 
later L.M. Abramson headed the finance department of the GULag; and Abram Flikser 
headed the personnel section of the GULag. All these are disconnected pieces of information, 
not amenable to methodical anal Moreover, there were special sections in each provincial 
office of the NKVD. Here is another isolated bit of information: Yakov Broverman was the 
head of Secretariat of the Special Section of the NKVD in Kiev; he later worked in the same 
capacity in the central NKVD apparatus. [57] 

Later, in 1940, when the Soviets occupied the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, 
the head of the Dvinsk NKVD was one Kaplan. He dealt so harshly with the people there, that 
in 1941, when the Red Army had hardly left and before the arrival of Germans, there was an 
explosion of public outrage against the Jews. 

In the novel by D.P. Vitkovsky, Half-life, there is a phrase about the Jewish looks of 
investigator, Yakovlev (the action is set during Khrushchev's regime). Vitovsky put it rather 
harshly so that Jews, who by the end of the 1960s were already on the way of breaking away 
from communism and in their new political orientation developed sympathy to any camp 
memoirs, were nonetheless repulsed by such a description. I remember V. Gershuni asked 
me how many other Jewish investigators did Vitovsky come across during his 30-year-long 


What an astonishing forgetfulness betrayed by that rather innocent slip! Would not it have 
been more appropriate to mention not the "30 years" but 50 years, or, at least, 40 years? 
Indeed, Vitovsky might not have encountered many Jewish investigators during his last thirty 
years, from the end of the 1930s (though they could still be found around even in the 1960s). 
Yet Vitovsky was persecuted by the Organs for forty years; he survived the Solovki camp; and 
he apparently did not forget the time when a Russian investigator was a less frequent sight 
than a Jewish or a Latvian one. 

Nevertheless, Gershuni was right in implying that all these outstanding and not so 
outstanding posts were fraught with death for their occupants; the more so, the closer it 
was to 1937-38. 


Our arbiters confidently ruled from their heights and when they were suddenly delivered a 
blow, it must have seemed to them like the collapse of the universe, like the end of the 
world. Wasn't there anyone among them before the onslaught who reflected on the usual 
fate of revolutionaries? 

Among the major communist functionaries who perished in 1937-38, the Jews comprise an 
enormous percentage. For example, a modern historian writes that if "from 1 January 1935 
to 1 January 1938 the members of this nationality headed more than 50% of the main 
structural units of the central apparatus of the people's commissariat of internal affairs, then 
by 1 January 1939 they headed only 6%."[58] 

Using numerous "execution lists" that were published over the recent decades, and the 
biographical tomes of the modern Russian Jewish Encyclopedia, we are able to trace to some 
degree the fates of those outstanding and powerful Chekists, Red commanders, Soviet party 
officials, diplomats, and others, whom we mentioned in the previous chapters of this book. 

Among the Chekists the destruction was particularly overwhelming (the names of those 
executed are italicized): 

G.Ya. Abrampolsky; L.M. Abramson, died in prison in 1939; Yakov Agranov, 1938;[59] Abram 
Belenky, 1941; Lev Belsky-Levin, 1941; Matvey Berman, 1939; Boris Berman, 1939; losif Blat, 
1937; Ya. Veinshtok, 1939; Leonid Vul, 1938, Mark Gai-Shtoklyand, 1937; Semyon Gendin, 
1939; Benjamin Gerson, 1941; Lev Zadov-Zinkovsky, 1938; Lev Zalin-Levin, 1940; A. Zalpeter, 
1939; Lev Zakharov-Meyer, 1937; N.Zelikman, 1937; Aleksandr loselevich, 1937, Zinovy 
Katsnelson, 1938; LazarKogan, 1939; Mikhail Koltsov-Fridlyand, 1940; Georg Krukovsky, 
1938; Izrail Leplevsky, 1938; Natan Margolin, 1938; A. Minaev-Tsikanovsky, 1939; Lev 
Mironov-Kagan, 1938; Sergey Mironov-Korol, 1940; Karl Pauker, 1937; Izrail Pliner, 1939; 
Mikhail Raev-Kaminsky, 1939; Aleksandr Radzivilovsky, 1940; Naum Raysky-Lekhtman, 1939; 
Grigoriy Rappoport, 1938; llya Ressin, 1940; A. Rutkovsky; Pinkhus Simanovsky, 1940; Abram 
Slutsky, poisoned in 1938; David Sokol ins ky, 1940; Mikhail Trilisser; Leonid Fayvilovich, 1936; 


Vladimir Tsesarsky, 1940; A. Shanin, 1937; Isaak Shapiro, 1940; Evsey Shirvindt, 1938; 
Grigoriy Shklyar; Sergey Shpigelglas, 1940; Genrikh Yagoda, 1938. 

Nowadays entire directories, containing lists of the highest officials of the Central Apparatus 
of the Main Directorate of State Security of the NKVD who fell during the Ezhov's period of 
executions and repressions, are published. There we see many more Jewish names. [60] 

But only accidentally, thanks to the still unbridled glasnostthat began in the beginning of the 
1990s, we learn about several mysterious biographies formerly shrouded in secrecy. For 
example, from 1937, professor Grigory Mayranovsky, a specialist in poisons, headed the 
"Laboratory X" in the Special Section of Operations Technology of the NKVD, which carried 
out death sentences through injections with poisons by "the direct decision of the 
government in 1937-47 and in 1950"; the executions were performed in a special prisoner 
cell at "Laboratory X" as well as abroad even in the 1960s and 1970s. [61] Mayranovsky was 
arrested only in 1951; from his cell he wrote to Beria: "Dozens of sworn enemies of the 
Soviet Union, including all kinds of nationalists, were destroyed by my hand. "[62] And from 
the astonishing disclosure in 1990 we learned that the famous mobile gas chambers were 
invented, as it turns out, not by Hitler during the World War II, but in the Soviet NKVD in 
1937 by Isai Davidovich Berg, the head of the administrative and maintenance section of the 
NKVD of Moscow Oblast(sure, he was not alone in that enterprise, but he organized the 
whole business). This is why it is also important to know who occupied middle-level posts. It 
turns out, that I.D. Berg was entrusted with carrying out the sentences of the "troika" of the 
NKVD of Moscow Oblast; he dutifully performed his mission, which involved s huttling 
prisoners to the execution place. But when three "troikas" began to work simultaneously in 
the Moscow Oblast, the executioners became unable to cope with the sheer number of 
executions. Then they invented a time-saving method: the victims were stripped naked, tied, 
mouths plugged, and thrown into a closed truck, outwardly disguised as a bread truck. On 
the road the exhaust fumes were redirected into the prisoner-carrying compartment, and by 
the time the van arrived to the burial ditch, the prisoners were "ready." (Well, Berg himself 
was shot in 1939, not for those evil deeds, of course, but for "the anti-Soviet conspiracy". In 
1956 he was rehabilitated without any problem, though the story of his murderous invention 
was kept preserved and protected in the records of his case and only recently discovered by 

There are so many individuals with outstanding lives and careers in the list above! Bela Kun, 
the Butcher of Crimea, himself fell at that time, and with him the lives of twelve Commissars 
of the communist government of Budapest ended. [64] 

However, it would be inappropriate to consider the expulsion of Jews from the punitive 
organs as a form of persecution. There was no anti-Jewish motif in those events. 
(Notwithstanding, that if Stalin's praetorians valued not only their present benefits and 
power but also the opinion of the people whom they governed, they should have left the 
NKVD and not have waited until they were kicked out. Still, this wouldn't have spared many 


of them death, but surely it would have spared them the stigma?) The notion of purposeful 
anti-Jewish purge doesn't hold water: "according to available data, at the end of the 1930s 
the Jews were one of the few national minorities, belonging to which did not constitute a 
"crime" for an NKVD official. There were still no regulations on national and personnel policy 
in the state security agencies that was enforced ...from the end of the 1940s to the early 
1950s" [65] 


Many Party activists fell under the destructive wave of 1937-1938. From 1936-37 the 
composition of the Soviet of People's Commissars began to change noticeably as the purges 
during the pre-war years ran through the prominent figures in the people's commissariats. 
The main personage behind collectivization, Yakovlev, had met his bullet; the same 
happened to his comrades-in-arms, Kalmanovich and Rukhimovich, and many others. The 
meat-grinder devoured many old "honored" Bolsheviks, such as the long-retired Ryazanov or 
the organizer of the murder of the TsarGoloshchekin, not to mention Kamenev and 
Zinovyev. (Lazar Kaganovich was spared although, he himself was the "iron broom" in 
several purges during 1937-38; for example, they called his swift purge of the city of Ivanov 
the "BlackTornado.")[66] 

They offer us the following interpretation: "This is a question about the victims of the Soviet 
dictatorship; they were used by it and then mercilessly discarded when their services 
became redundant." [67] What a great argument! So for twenty years these powerful Jews 
were really used? Yet weren't they themselves the zealous cogs in the mechanism of that 
very dictatorship right up to the very time when their "services became redundant"? Did not 
they make the great contribution to the destruction of religion and culture, the intelligentsia, 
and the multi-million peasantry? 

A great many Red Army commanders fell under the axe. "By the summer of 1938 without 
exception all... commanders of military districts ... who occupied these posts by June 1937 
disappeared without a trace." The Political Administration of the Red Army "suffered the 
highest losses from the terror" during the massacre of 1937, after the suicide of Gamarnik. 
Of the highest political officers of the Red Army, death claimed all 17 army commissars, 25 
out of 28 corps commissars, and 34 out of 36 brigade (divisional) commissars. [68] We see a 
significant percentage of Jews in the now-published lists of military chiefs executed in 1937- 

Grigory Shtern had a very special military career; he advanced along the political officer's 
path. During the Civil War he was military commissar at regimental, brigade, and divisional 
levels. In 1923-25 he was the head of all special detachments in the Khorezm [a short-lived 
republic after the Bolshevik revolution] troops during the suppression of rebellions in Central 
Asia. Until 1926, he was the head of the political administration division. Later he studied at 
the military academy for senior military officers [and thus became eligible for proper military 


posts]; in 1929-34 he was a "military advisor to the Republican government in Spain" (not to 
be confused with Manfred Shtern, who also distinguished himself among the Red Spaniards 
under the alias of "General Kleber"). Later he was the Chief of Staff of the Far Eastern Front 
and conducted bloody battles at Lake Khasan in 1938 together with Mekhlis, at the same 
time conspiring against Marshall Blucher, whom he ruined and whose post of the front 
commander he took over after the arrest of the latter. In March 1939, at the 18th Party 
Congress, he made this speech: "Together we have destroyed a bunch of good-for- 
nothings— the Tukhachevskys, Gamarniks, Uborevichs [former Soviet Marshallsf and similar 
others." Well, he himself was shot later, in autumn 1941. [70] Shtern's comrade-in-arms in 
aviation, Yakov Smushkevich, also had a head-spinning career. He too began as a political 
officer (until the mid-1930s); then he studied at the academy for top officers. In 1936-37 he 
had also fought in Spain, in aviation, and was known as "General Douglas". In 1939 he was 
commander of the aviation group at Khalkhin Gol [on the Manchurian-Mongolian border, 
site of Soviet-Japanese battles won by the Russians]. Afterthat he rose to the commander of 
all air forces of the Red Army - the General Inspector of the Air Force; he was arrested in 
May 1941 a nd executed i n the sa me yea r. [71] 

The wave of terror spared neither administrators, nor diplomats; almost all of the diplomats 
mentioned above were executed. 

Let's name those party, military, diplomatic, and managerial figures whom we mentioned 
before on these pages who now were persecuted (the names of the executed are italicized): 

Samuil Agursky, arrested in 1938; Lazar Aronshtam, 1938; Boris Belenky, 1938; Grigory 
Belenky, 1938; Zakhar Belenky,1940; Mark Belenky, 1938; Moris Belotsky, 1938; German 
Bitker, 1937; Aran Vainshtein, 1938; Yakov Vesnik, 1938; Izrail Veitser, 1938; Abram Volpe, 
1937; YanGamarnik, committed suicide in 1937; Mikhail Gerchikov, 1937; Evgeny Gnedin, 
arrested in 1939; Philip Goloshchekin, 1941; Ya. Goldin, 1938; Lev Gordon, arrested in 1939; 
IsaakGrinberg, 1938; Yakov Gugel, 1937; Aleksandr Gurevich, 1937; Sholom Dvoilatsky, 
1937; Maks Deych, 1937; Semyon Dimanshtein, 1938; Efim Dreitser, 1936; Semyon 
Zhukovsky, 1940; Samuil Zaks, 1937; Zinovy Zangvil, IsaakZelensky, 1938; Grigory Zinovyev, 
1936; S. Zorin-Gomberg, 1937; Boris Ippo, 1937; Mikhail Kaganovich, committed suicide in 
expectation of arrest, 1941; Moisey Kalmanovich, 1937; LevKamenev, 1936; Abram 
Kamensky, 1938; Grigoriy Kaminsky, 1938; llya Kit-Viytenko, arrested in 1937 and spent 20 
years in camps; I.M. Kleiner, 1937; Evgeniya Kogan, 1938; Aleksandr Krasnoshchyokov- 
Tobinson, 1937; LevKritsman, 1937; Solomon Kruglikov, 1938; Vladimir Lazarevich, 1938; 
Mikhail Landa, 1938; Ruvim Levin, 1937; Yakov Livshits, 1937; Moisey Lis ovsky, arrested in 
1938; Frid Markus, 1938; LevMaryasin, 1938; Grigory Melnichansky, 1937; Aleksandr 
Minkin-Menson, died in camp in 1955; Nadezhda Ostrovskaya, 1937; Lev Pechersky, 1937; I. 
Pinson, 1936; losif Pyatnitsky-Tarshis, 1938; Izrail Razgon, 1937; Moisey Rafes, 1942; Grigory 
Roginsky, 1939; Marsel Rozenberg, 1938; Arkady Rozengolts, 1938; Naum Rozovsky, 1942; 
Boris Royzenman, 1938; E. Rubinin, spent 15 years in camps; Yakov Rubinov, 1937; Moisey 


Rukhimovich, 1938; OskarRyvkin, 1937; David Ryazanov, 1938; Veniamin Sverdlov, 1939; 
Boris Skvirsky, 1941; losifSlavin, 1938; Grigoriy Sokolnikov-Brilliant, killed in prison, 1939; 
IsaakSolts, died in confinement in 1940; Naum Sokrin, 1938; Lev Sosnovsky, 1937; Artur 
Stashevsky-Girshfeld, 1937; Yury Steklov-Nakhamkis, 1941; Nikolay Sukhanov-Gimmer, 1940; 
Boris Tal, 1938; Semyon Turovsky, 1936; Semyon Uritsky, 1937; Evgeny Fainberg, 1937; 
Vladimir Feigin, 1937; Boris Feldman, 1937; Yakov Fishman, arrested in 1937; Moisey 
Frumkin, 1938; Maria Frumkina-Ester, died in camp, 1943; Leon Khaikis, 1938; Avenir 
Khanukaev; Moisey Kharitonov, died in camp, 1948; Mendel Khataevich, 1937; Tikhon 
Khvesin, 1938; losif Khodorovsky, 1938; Mordukh Khorosh, 1937; Isay Tsa I kovich, arrested in 
1937; Efim Tsetlin, 1937; Yakov Chubin; N. Chuzhak-Nasimovich; Lazar Shatskin, 1937; Akhiy 
Shilman, 1937; lerokhim Epshtein, arrested in 1938; lona Yakir, 1937; Yakov Yakovlev- 
Epshtein, 1938; Grigory Shtern, 1941. 

This is indeed a commemoration roster of many top-placed Jews. 

Below are the fates of some prominent Russian Jewish socialists, who did not join the 
Bolsheviks or who even struggled against them. 

Boris Osipovich Bogdanov (born 1884) was an Odessan, the grandson and son of lumber 
suppliers. He graduated from the best commerce school in Odessa. While studying, he joined 
Social Democrat societies. In June 1905, he was the first civilian who got on board the 
mutinous battleship, Potemkin, when she entered the port of Odessa; he gave a speech for 
her crew, urging sailors to join Odessa's laborstrike; he delivered letters with appeals to 
consulates of the European powers in Russia. He avoided punishment by departing for St. 
Petersburg where he worked in the Social Democratic underground; he was a Menshevik. He 
was sentenced to two 2-year-long exiles, one after another, to Solvychegodsk and to 
Vologda. Before the war, he entered the elite of the Menshevik movement; he worked 
legally on labor questions. In 1915 he became the secretary of the Labor Group at the 
Military Industrial Committee, was arrested in January 1917 and freed by the February 
Revolution. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers' and 
Soldiers' Deputies of Petrograd, and regularly chaired its noisy sessions which attracted 
thousands of people. From June 1917 he was a member of the Bureau of the Ail-Russian 
Central Executive Committee and persistently opposed ongoing attempts of the Bolsheviks 
to seize power. After the failed Bolshevik rebellion in July 1917 he accepted the surrender of 
the squad of sailors besieged in the Petropavlovsk Fortress. After the October coup, in 1918 
he was one of the organizers of a nti -Bolshevik workers movement inPetrograd. During the 
Civil War he lived in Odessa. Afterthe Civil War he tried to restart the Menshevik political 
activity, but at the end of 1920 he was arrested for one year. That was the beginning of 
many years of unceasing arrests and sentences, exiles and camps, and numerous transfers 
between different camps — the so-called "Great Road" of so many socialists in the USSR. 
And all that was just for being a Menshevik in the past and for having Menshevik convictions 
even though by that time he no longer engaged in politics and during brief respites simply 


worked on economic posts and just wanted a quiet life; however, he was suspected of 
economic "sabotage." In 1922 he requested permission to emigrate, but shortly before 
departure was arrested again. First he was sent to the Solovki prison camp and later exiled 
to the Pechora camp [in the Urals]; his sentences were repeatedly extended by three years; 
he experienced solitary confinement in the Suzdal camp and was repeatedly exiled. In 1931 
they attempted to incriminate him in the case of the "All-Soviet Bureau of Mensheviks," but 
he was lucky and they left him alone. Yet he was hauled in again in 1937, imprisoned in the 
Omsk jail (together with already-imprisoned communists), where he survived non-stop 
interrogations which sometimes continued without a pause for weeks, at any time of the day 
or night (there were three shifts of investigators); he served out 7 years in the Kargopol 
camp (several other Mensheviks were shot there); later he was exiled to Syktyvkar; in 1948 
he was again sentenced and exiled to Kazakhstan. In 1956 he was rehabilitated; he died in 
1960, a worn-out old man. 

Boris Davidovich Kamkov-Kats (born 1885) was the son of a country doctor. From 
adolescence, he was a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. Exiled in 1905 to the 
Turukhan Krai, he escaped. Abroad, he graduated from the Heidelberg University School of 
Law. He was a participant in the Zimmerwald [Switzerland] Conference of socialists (1915). 
After the February Revolution he returned to Russia. He was one of the founders of the Left 
Socialist Revolutionary Party; at the time of the October coup he entered into a coalition 
with the Bolsheviks. He took part inthe dispersal of the Russian Constituent Assembly in 
January 1918. From April he urged breaking the alliance with the Bolsheviks; in June he 
already urged "a revolutionary uprising against them. After the failed rebellion of the 
Socialist Revolutionaries, he went underground. After a brief arrest in 1920, he was arrested 
again in 1921, and exiled in 1923. Between exiles he spent two years in prison and 
experienced the same "Great Road." In 1933 he was exiled to Archangel; he was arrested 
again in 1937 and executed in 1938. 

Abram Rafailovich Gots (born 1882) was the grandson of a millionaire tea merchant, V.Ya. 
Visotsky. From the age of 14, he was in the the Socialist Revolutionary movement from the 
very creation of the SR party in 1901 (his brother Mikhail was the party leader). From 1906, 
he was a terrorist, a member of the militant wing of the SRs. From 1907-1915 he was in hard 
labor camps; he spent some time sitting inthe infamous Aleksandrovsky Central. He was a 
participant of the February Revolution in Irkutsk and later in Petrograd. He was a member of 
the executive committees of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies of Petrograd and 
of the Soviet Peasant's Deputies and a member of the Presidium of the Ail-Russian Central 
Executive Committee. From 25 October 1917 he headed the anti-Bolshevik Committee for 
the Salvation of the Motherland and Revolution. During the Civil War he continued his 
struggle against Bolsheviks. In 1920 he was arrested; at the trial of the Socialist 
Revolutionaries in 1922 he was sentenced to death, commuted to 5 years of imprisonment. 
Later he experienced the "Great Road" of endless new prison terms and exiles. In 1939 he 
was sentenced to 25 years inthe camps and died in one a year later. 


Mikhail Yakovlevich Gendelman (bom 1881) was an attomey-at-law and a Socialist 
Revolutionary from 1902. He participated in the February Revolution in Moscow, was a 
member of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Soldiers' and Workers' Deputies, a 
member of the Presidium of the Ail-Russian Central Executive Committee, and a member of 
the Central Committee of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. On 25 October 1917, he left the 
meeting of the 2nd Ail-Russian Congress of the Soviets in protest againstthe Bolsheviks. He 
was elected to the Constituent Assembly and participated in its only session, on 5 January 
1918. Later in Samara he participated in the Committee of Members of the Constituent 
Assemby. He was arrested in 1921; in 1922 he was sentenced to death at the trial of the 
Socialist Revolutionaries, commuted to 5 years in prison. After numerous prison terms and 
exiles, he was shot in 1938. 

Mikhail Isaakovich Liber-Goldman (born 1880) was one of the founders of the Bund (1897), a 
member of the Central Committee of the [General Jewish Labor] Bund of Lithuania, Poland 
and Russia in Emigration; he represented the Bund atthe congresses of the Russian Social 
Democratic Workers' Party. He participated in the revolution of 1905-06. In 1910 he was 
exiled for three years to Vologda Province, fled soon thereafter and emigrated again. He was 
a steady and uncompromising opponent of Lenin. He returned to Russia after 1914, and 
joined the Socialist "Defender" movement ("Defense of the Motherland in War"). After the 
February revolution, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet 
of Soldiers' and Workers' Deputies, and later he was a member of the Presidium of the All- 
Russian Central Executive Committee. (He left the latter post after the October coup). Then 
he briefly participated in the Social Democratic Workers' Party of the Mensheviks. He 
worked on economic positions andwasone of the leaders of the Menshevik underground in 
the USSR. His "Great Road" arrests and exiles began inl923. He was arrested again and 
executed in Alma-Ata in 1937. 

For many, there was a similarfate, with repeated sentences and exiles, right up to the climax 
of 1937-38. 

Yet in those years purges swept all over the country, destroying the lives of countless 
ordinary people, including Jews, people who had nothing to do with politics or authority. 
Here are some of the Jews who perished: 

Nathan Bernshtein (born 1876) a music scholarand critic; he taught the history of music and 
aesthetics and wrote a number of books; arrested in 1937, he died in prison. 

Matvei Bronshtein (born 1906) a talented theoretical physicist, Doctor of Science, who 
achieved extraordinary results. He was the husband of Lyudmila K. Chukovskaya. Arrested in 
1937, he was executed in 1938. 

Sergey Ginter (born 1870) an architect and engineer; arrested in 1934, exiled to Siberia, 
arrested again in 1937 and executed. 


Veniamin Zilbermints (bom 1887) a mineralogist and geochemist; specialist on rare elements, 
he laid the foundation for semi-conductor science; he was persecuted in 1938. 

Mikhail Kokin (born 1906) an Orientalist, Sinologist and historian, arrested in 1937 and 

Ilya Krichevsky (born 1885) a microbiologist, immunologist (also trained in physics and 
mathematics), Doctor of Medical Sciences, founder of a scientific school, chairman of the 
National Association of Microbiologists; arrested in 1938 and died in 1943. 

Solomon Levit (born 1894), geneticist; he studied the role of heredity and environment in 
pathology. Arrested in 1938 and died in prison. 

lokhiel Ravrebe (born 1883), an Orientalist, Judaist, one of the founders of the reestablished 
Jewish Ethnographic Society in 1920. Accused of creating a Zionist organization, he was 
arrested in 1937 and died in prison. 

Vladimir Finkelshtein (born 1896), a chemical physicist, professor, corresponding member of 
the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences; he had many works in applied electrical chemistry; 
persecuted in 1937. 

Ilya Khetsrov (born 1887), a hygienistand epidemiologist; he studied environmental hygiene, 
protection of water resources, and community hygiene. Arrested in 1938 and executed. 

Nakhum Schwartz (born 1888), a psychiatrist, studied Jewish psychology. In 1921-23 he 
taught Hebrew and wrote poetry in Hebrew. Accused of Zionist activity, he was arrested in 
1937 and later died in prison. 

Here are the fates of the three brothers Shpilrein from Rostov-on-Don. Jan (born 1887) was 
a mathematician; he applied mathematical methods in electrical and heat engineering, he 
was professor at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University and later the dean of its 
Electrical Engineering Department. He was persecuted and died in 1937. Isaak (born 1891) 
was a psychologist, Doctor of Philosophy. In 1927 he became the head of the Ail-Russian 
Society of Psychotechnology and Applied Psychophysiology; he performed extensive 
psychological analysis of professions and optimization of working environment. He was 
arrested in 1935 and later executed. Emil (born 1899) was a biologist, the dean of the 
Biology Department of Rostov University. He was shot in 1937. 

Leonid Yurovsky (born 1884) Doctor of Political Economy, one of the authors of the 
monetary reform of 1922-24. A close friend to A.V. Chayanov and N.D. Kondratev 
[prominent Russian scientists], he was arrested in 1930, freed in 1935, then arrested again in 
1937 and executed. 



Despite the overwhelming percentage of high-placed, "aristocratic" Jews, who fell under 
Stalin's axe, the free Western press did not perceive the events as specifically the 
persecution of Jews: the Jews were massacred simply because of their abundance in the top 
tiers of the Soviet hierarchy. Indeed, we read such a stipulation in the collection of works 
Evreysky Mir [The Jewish World] (1939): "No doubt that the Jews in the USSR have 
numerous opportunities, which they did not have before the revolution, and which they do 
not have even now in some democratic countries. They can become generals, ministers, 
diplomats, professors, the most high-ranking and the most servile aristocrats." Opportunities 
but "in no way rights", because of the absence of such rights, "Yakir, Garmanik, Yagoda, 
Zinovyev, Radek, Trotsky" and the rest fell from their heights and lost their very lives. "[72] 
Still, no nationality enjoyed such a right under the communist dictatorship; it was all about 
the ability to cling to power. 

The long-time devoted socialist, emigrants. Ivanovich (S.O. Portugeis), admitted: "Under the 
Tsars, the Jews were indeed restricted in their 'right of living'; yet their 'right to live' was 
incomparably greater then than under Bolshevism." Indeed. However, at the same time, 
despite being perfectly aware of collectivization, he writes that the "awkward attempts to 
establish 'socialism' in Russia took the heaviesttoll from the Jews"; that "the scorpions of 
Bolshevism did not attack any other people with such brutal force as they attacked 
Jews." [73] 

Yet during the Great Plague of dekulakization, it was not thousands but millions of peasa nts 
who lost both their 'right of living' and the 'right to live'. And yet all the Soviet pens (with so 
many Jews among them) kept complete silence about this cold-blooded destruction of the 
Russian peasantry. In unison with them, the entire West was silent. Could it be really out of 
the lack of knowledge? Or was it for the sake of protecting the Soviet regime? Or was it 
simply because of indifference? Why, this is almost inconceivable: 15 million peasants were 
not simply deprived of entering the institutes of higher learning or of the right to study in 
graduate school, or to occupy nice posts — no! They were dispossessed and driven like cattle 
out of their homes and sent to certain death in the taiga and tundra. And the Jews, among 
other passionate urban activists, enthusiastically took the reins of the collectivization into 
their hands, leaving behind them persistent evil memory. And who had raised their voices in 
defense of the peasants then? And now, in 1932-33, in Russia and Ukraine - on the very 
outskirts of Europe, five to six million people died from hunger! And the free press of the 
free world maintained utter silence... And even if we take into account the extreme Leftist 
bias of the contemporary Western press and its devotion to the socialist "experiment" in the 
USSR, it is still impossible not to be amazed at the degree to which they could go to be blind 
and insensitive to the sufferings of even tens of millions of fellow humans. 

If you don't see it, your heart doesn't cry. 

During the 1920s, the Ukrainian Jews departed from their pro-Russian-statehood mood of 
1917-1920, and by the end of the 1920s "the Jews are among Ukrainian chauvinists and 


separatists, wielding enormous influence there— but only in the cities. "[74] We can find such 
a conclusion: the destruction of Ukrainian-language culture in 1937 was in part aimed 
against Jews, who formed "a genuine union" with Ukrainians "for the development of local 
culture in Ukrainian language."[75] Nevertheless, such a union in cultural circles could not 
soften the attitudes of the wider Ukrainian population toward Jews. We have already seen in 
the previous chapter how in the course of collectivization "a considerable number of Jewish 
communists functioned in rural locales as commanders and lords over life and death. "[76] 
This placed a new scaron Ukrainian-Jewish relations, already tense for centuries. And 
although the famine was a direct result of Stalin's policy, and not only in Ukraine (it brutally 
swept across the Volga Region and the Urals), the suspicion widely arose among Ukrainians 
that the entire Ukrainian famine was the work of the Jews. Such an interpretation has long 
existed (and the Ukrainian emigre press adhered to it until the 1980s). "Some Ukrainians are 
convinced that 1933 was the revenge of the Jews for the times of Khmelnitsky."[77] [A 17th 
century Cossack leaderwho conducted bloody anti-Jewish pogroms in Ukraine]. 

Don't expect to reap wheat where the weed was sewn. The supreme authority of so many 
Jews along with only a small number of Jews being touched by the grievances which afflicted 
the rest of population could lead to all sorts of interpretations. 

Jewish authors who nervously kept an eye on anti-Semitism in the USSR did not notice this 
trampled ash, however, and made rather optimistic conclusions. For instance, Solomon 
Schwartz writes: "From the start of the 1930s, anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union quickly 
abated", and "in the mid-1930s it lost the character of a mass phenomenon ...anti-Semitism 
reached the all-time low point." He explains this, in part, as the result of the end of the NEP 
(the New Economic Policy) and thereby the disappearance of Jewish businessmen and petty 
Jewish merchants. Later, "forced industrialization and lightning-fast collectivization," which 
he favorably compares with a kind of "shock therapy, i.e., treatment of mental disorders 
with electric shocks," was of much help. In addition he considers that in those years the 
ruling communist circles began to struggle with Great-Russian "chauvinism." (Well, they did 
not begin; they just continued the policy of Lenin's intolerance). Schwartz soundly notes that 
the authorities were "persistently silent about anti-Semitism", "in order to avoid the 
impression that the struggle against Great-Russian chauvinism is a struggle for the Jews."[78] 

In January 1931, first the New York Times, [79] and later the entire world press published a 
sudden and ostentatious announcement by Stalin to the Jewish Telegraph Agency: "The 
Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot help but be an irreconcilable and sworn 
enemy of anti-Semitism. In the USSR, anti-Semitism is strictly prosecuted by law as a 
phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet order. Active anti-Semites are punished, according 
to the laws of the USSR, with the death penalty."[80] See, he addressed the democratic 
West and did not mind specifying the punishment. And it was only one nationality in the 
USSR that was set apart by being granted such a protection. And world opinion was 
completely satisfied with that. 


But characteristically, the announcement by the Leader was not printed in the Soviet press 
(because of his cunning reservations); it was produced for export and he hid this position 
from his own citizens; in the USSR it was only printed at the end of 1936. [81] Then Stalin 
sent Molotov to make a similarannouncement at the Congress of Soviets. 

A contemporary Jewish author, erroneously interpreting Molotov's speech, suggests that 
speaking on behalf of the government he threatened to punish "anti-Semitic feelings" with 
death. [82] Feelings! No, Molotov did not mention anything like that; he did not depart from 
Stalin's policy of persecuting "active anti-Semites." We are not aware of any instance of 
death penalty in the 1930s for anti-Semitism, but people were sentenced for it according to 
the Penal Code. (People whispered that before the revolution the authorities did not punish 
as harshly even for libels against the Tsar.) 

But now S. Schwartz observes a change: "In the second half of the 1930s, these sentiments 
[people's hostility toward Jews] became much more prevalent ... particularly in the major 
centers, where the Jewish intelligentsia and semi-intelligentsia were concentrated.... Here 
again the legend about "Jewish domination" gradually began to come back to life, and they 
began to spread exaggerated notions about the role of Jews in the middle and top ranks of 
government." Well, whether or not it was really a legend, he immediately attempted to 
explain it, though in a quite naive manner, suggesting the same old excuse that the Jewish 
intelligentsia and semi-intelligentsia simply had almost no other source of livelihood under 
Soviet conditions except the government service. "[83] 

This is so shameful to read. What oppression and despair! See, they had almost no other 
sources of livelihood, only privileged ones. And the rest of population was absolutely free to 
toil on kolkhoz fields, to dig pits, and to roll barrows at the great construction projects of the 
5-year plans... 

In official policy, nothing had changed in the 1930s in the Jewish Question from the time of 
the revolution; no official hostility toward Jews existed. Indeed, they used to dream and 
proclaim about the impending end of all national conflicts. 

And the foreign Jewish circles did not and could not sense any oppression of the Jews in the 
USSR. In the article The Jews and the Soviet Dictatorship, S. Ivanovich wrote: "Abroad, many 
believe that there is no anti-Semitism in Russia, and on that basis they are favorably 
disposed toward the Soviet authorities. But in Russia they know that this is not true." 
However, Jews "pray for the long-life of the Soviet regime ... and are strongly afraid of its 
demise," for "Stalin protects them from pogroms and hopefully would protect them in 
future." The author sympathizes with such an opinion, although he considers it flawed: "If 
the Bolshevik dictatorship falls, no doubt there will be wild anti-Semitic ravages and violence 
...The fall of the Soviet regime would be a catastrophe for the Jews, and any friend of the 
Jewish people should reject such a prospect with horror"; yet at the same time he remarks 


that "the Soviet dictatorship is already embarrassed by the Judeophilia and Jewish 
dominance attributed to it." [84] 

The resolution on Stalin's report at the 16th Party Congress provided the general political 
direction for the 1930s, calling for an energetic struggle against chauvinism, and primarily 
against the Great Russian chauvinism. The Party language was easily understood by all. And 
for several more years this struggle was enthusiastically carried on. Yet what kind of Stalinist 
madness was it? By that time there was no trace left of the Great Russian chauvinism. Stalin 
was not able to envision the immediate future [of WWII] - when only Russian patriotism 
would save him from imminent doom. 

Then they have already started to sound the alarm about the danger of any rebirth of 
Russian patriotism. In 1939, S. Ivanovich claimed to notice a trend "of this dictatorship 
returning to some national traditions of Moscovite Russ and Imperial Russia"; he caustically 
cited several stamps that entered popular discourse around that time such as the '"love for 
the Motherland', 'national pride' etc." [85] 

See, this is where the mortal danger for Russia lurked then, immediately before Hitler's 
assault-inthat ugly Russian patriotism! 

This alarm did not leave the minds of Jewish publicists for the next half century, even when 
they looked back at that war, when mass patriotism blazed up, at the war which saved 
Soviet Jewry. So in 1988 we read in an Israeli magazine: "Vivid traditions of the Black 
Hundreds ... were the foundation of 'vivifying Soviet patriotism', which blossomed later, 
during the Great Patriotic War"[86] [the official Russian designation forthe Eastern front in 

Looking back at that war of 1941-1945, let's admit that this is a highly ungrateful judgment. 

So, even the purest and most immaculate Russian patriotism has no right to exist - not now, 
not ever? 

Why is it so? And why it is that Russian patriotism is thus singled out? 

An important event in Jewish life in the USSR was the closing of the YevSek atthe Central 
Committee of the Ail-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks in 1930. Though in accord with 
the Soviet blueprint, this act blocked any separate development of a Jewish society having 
"national, cultural, and individual Jewish autonomy." From now on Jewish cultural 
development lay within the Soviet mainstream. In 1937-38 the leading Yevseks - 
Dimanshtein, Litvakov, Frumkina-Ester and their associates Motl Kiper, Itskhok Sudarsky, 
AleksandrChemerissky-who, in words of Yu. Margolina, "in the service of the authorities 
carried out the greatest pogrom against Jewish culture,"[87] were arrested and soon 
executed. Many Yevseks, "occupying governing positions in the central and local 


departments of the Society for Settling Toiling Jews on the Land (OZET) and in the Jewish 
community, Jewish cultural and educational structures," also fell under the juggernaut. In 
1936-39, the majority of them were persecuted." [88] The poisonous atmosphere of 1930s 
now reached these levels too. During open public meetings they began to accuse and expose 
prominent Jewish communists, who at some time before were members either of the Bund 
or of the Zionist Socialist Party, or even of Poale-Zion, all of which were crippled under the 
Soviet regime. Was there anyone, whose past the Bolsheviks did not try to criminalize? 
"Who have you been before...?" In 1938 Der Ernes was closed also. 

What about education? "Right up to 1933 the number of Jewish schools and Jewish students 
in them increased despite the early (1920s) critique "of nationalistic over-zealous ness'" in 
the actions of the Yevseks on the 'forced transition of Jewish education into Yiddish. "'[89] 
From 1936 to 1939 a "period of accelerated decline and even more accelerated inner 
impoverishment" of the schools inYiddishwas noted. [90] After 1936-37 "the number of 
Jewish schools began to decline quickly even in Ukraine and Belorussia"; the desire of 
parents to send their children to such schools had diminished. "Education in Yiddish was 
seen as less and less prestigious; there was an effort to give children an education in the 
Russian language." Also, from the second half of the 1930s the number of institutions of 
higher education lecturing in Yiddish began to decline rapidly"; "almost all Jewish institutions 
of higher education and technical schools were closed by 1937-38."[91] 

At the start of 1930s the Jewish scientific institutes at the academies of science of Ukraine 
and Belorussia were closed; in Kiev 'The Institute of Jewish Proletarian Culture' fell into 
desolation." And soon after this arrests followed (Mikhail Kokin of the Leningrad Institute of 
Philosophy, literature and History was executed; lokhiel Rabrebe, formerly of the Petrograd 
Institute of Higher Jewish Studies, who in the 1930s headed the Jewish Section of the Public 
Library, was sentenced to 8 years and died in the transit camp). [92] 

Persecutions spread to writers in Yiddish: Moyshe Kulbak was persecuted in 1937; Zelik 
Akselrod, in 1940; Abram Abchuk, a teacher of Yiddish and a critic, in 1937; writer Gertsl 
Bazov , was persecuted in 1938. Writer I. Kharik and critic Kh. Dunets were persecuted also. 

Still, "literature in Yiddish was actively published until the end of the 1930s. Jewish 
publishers were working in Moscow, Kiev, and Minsk." Yet what kind of literature was it? In 
the 1930s "the overwhelming majority of works were written stereotypically, in accordance 
with the unshakable principles of 'socialist realism. "'[93] Literature in Yiddish "from the 
1930s up to June 1941 ... was marked by the cult of Stalin. Unbridled flattery for Stalin 
flowed from the bosom of Jewish poetry..." [94] Itsik Feder "managed to light up even official 
propaganda with lyrical notes. These monstrous sayings are ascribed to his pen: 'You 
betrayed your father — this is great!', and 'I say 'Stalin' but envision the sun."'[95] Most of 
these writers, who zealously tried to please Stalin, were arrested ten years later. But some of 
them, as mentioned above, had already drawn this lot. 


Similarly, "the ideological press of official communist doctrine signified for many Jewish 
artists and sculptors a complete break up, quite often tragic, with the national Jewish 
traditions." (Still, what culture in the USSR was not touched by this?) So it comes as little 
surprise that "the overwhelming majority ... of Jewish theaters devoted much attention to 
propaganda performances." This included all 19 aforementioned professional Yiddish 
theaters and "numerous independent collectives, studios, and circles. "[96] 

Concerning Hebrew culture which preserved the national traditions: it was by now 
conclusively banished and went underground. 

It has already been mentioned that the Zionist underground was crushed by the beginning of 
the 1930s. Many Zionists were already rounded up, but still many others were accused of 
"the Zionist conspiracy." Take Pinkhas Dashevsky (from Chapter 8) - in 1933 he was arrested 
as a Zionist. Pinkhas Krasny was not a Zionist but was listed as such in his death sentence. He 
was former Minister of Petliura's Directorate, emigrated but later returned into the USSR. He 
was executed in 1939. Volf Averbukh, a Poale-Zionistfrom his youth, left for Israel in 1922, 
where "he collaborated with the communist press." In 1930, he was sent back to the USSR, 
where he was arrested. [97] 

"Most of the semi-legal cheder schools and yeshivas were shut down" around that time. 
Arrests rolled on from the late 1920s in the Hasidic underground. Yakov-Zakharia Maskalik 
was arrested in 1937, Abrom-Levik Slavin was arrested in 1939. By the end of 1933, "237 
synagogues were closed, that is, 57% of all existing in the first years of Soviet authority ... In 
the mid-1930s, the closure of synagogues accelerated." From 1929, "the authorities began 
to impose excessive tax on matzo baking." In 1937, "the Commission on the Questions of 
Religions at the Central Executive Committee of the USSR prohibited baking matzo in Jewish 
religious communities." In 1937-38 "the majority of clergy of the Jewish religious cult were 
persecuted. There were no rabbis in the majority of still-functioning synagogues."[98] "In 
1938 a 'hostile rabbinical nest' was discovered in the Moscow Central Synagogue; the rabbis 
and a number of parishioners were arrested." [99] The Rabbi of Moscow, Shmuel-Leib 
Medalia, was arrested and executed in 1938. (His son, Moishe Medalia, was arrested at the 
same time). In 1937, the Rabbi of Saratov, losif Bogatin, was arrested. [100] 

In the early 1930s, when the Jewish religion was restricted in the USSR, the closing of 
thousands of Orthodox Christian temples and the destruction of many of them rolled along 
throughout the entire country. They especially hurried to "liberate" Soviet Moscow from the 
church; Boris lofan was in charge of that "reconstruction." In that bitter and hungry year of 
devastating breakdown of the country, they promoted projects for a grand Palace of Soviets 
in place of the Cathedral of Christthe Savior. Izvestiya reports: "So far, eleven projects are 
presented at the exhibition. Particularly interesting among them are the works of architects 
Fridman, B. lofan, Bronshtein, and Ladovsky."[101] Later, the arrests reached the architects 
as well. 


The move toward "settling the toiling Jews on the land" gradually became irrelevant for 
Soviet Jews. "The percentage of Jewish settlers abandoning lands given to them remained 
high." In 1930-32, the activity of foreign Jewish philanthropic organizations such as Agro- 
Joint, OKG, and EKO in the USSR, had noticeably decreased." And although in 1933-38 it had 
still continued within the frameworks of new restrictive agreements, "in 1938 the activity 
ceased completely." "In the first half of 1938, first the OZET and then the Committee for 
Settling the Toiling Jews on the Land (KomZET) were dissolved. The overwhelming majority 
of remaining associates of these organizations, who were still at liberty, were persecuted." 
By 1939, "the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine decided to liquidate 
...'the artificially' created national Jewish districts and boroughs. "[102] 

Nonetheless, the idea of a Jewish colony in Birobidzhan was not abandoned in the 1930s and 
was even actively advanced by government. In order to put spirit into the masses, the 
authorities staged the Second Ail-Union Congress of the OZET in Moscow in December 
1930.[103] By the end of 1931, the general population of that oblast was 45,000 with only 
5,000 Jews among them, although whole villages with homes were built for their settlement 
and access roads were laid (sometimes by inmates from the camps nearby; for example, the 
train station of Birobidzhan was constructed in this manner). [104] Yet non-Jewish 
colonization of the region went faster than Jewish colonization. 

In order to set matters right, in autumn of 1931 the Presidium of the Central Executive 
Committee of the RSFSR decreed that another 25,000 Jews should be settled in Birobidzhan 
during the next two years, after which it would be possible to declare it the Jewish 
Autonomous Republic. However, in the following years the number of Jews who left 
exceeded the number of Jews arriving, and by the end of 1933, after six years of colonization, 
the number of settled Jews amounted only to 8,000; of them only 1,500 lived in rural areas, 
i.e. worked in kolkhozes; that is, the Jews comprised less than 1/5 of all kolkhoz workers 
there. (There is also information that the land in the Jewish kolkhozes was fairly often tilled 
by hired Cossacks and Koreans). The oblast could not even provide enough agricultural 
products for its own needs. [105] 

Nevertheless, in May 1934, when the non-Jewish population had already reached 50,000, 
Birobidzhan was loudly declared a Jewish Autonomous Oblast. (It still did not qualify for the 
status of a "republic") 

Thus, there was no "national enthusiasm among the Jewish masses, which would ease the 
overcoming of the enormous difficulties inherent in such colonization." There was no 
industry in Birobidzhan, and "the economic and social structure" of the settlers "resembled 
that of contemporary Jewish towns and shtetls in Ukraine and Belorussia" This was 
particularly true for the city of Birobidzhan, especially considering "the increased role of the 
Jews in the local administrative apparatus."[106] 


Culture in Yiddish had certainly developed in the autonomous oblast- there were Jewish 
newspapers, radio, schools, a theater named after Kaganovich (its director was the future 
author E. Kazakevich), a library named after Sholem Aleichem, a museum of Jewish culture, 
and public reading facilities. Perets Markish had published the exultant article, A People 
Reborn, in the central press. "[107] (In connection with Birobidzhan, let's note the fate of the 
demographer llya Veitsblit. His position was that "the policy of recruitment of poor urban 
Jews in order to settle them in rural areas should end"; "there are no declasse individuals 
among the Jews, who could be suitable for Birobidzhan." He was arrested in 1933 and likely 
died in prison). [108] 

Yet the central authorities believed that that the colonization should be stimulated even 
further; and from 1934 they began a near compulsory recruitment among Jewish artisans 
and workers in the western regions, that is, among the urban population without a slightest 
knowledge of agriculture. The slogan rang out: "The entire USSR builds the Jewish 
Autonomous Oblast!" - meaning that recruitment of non-Jewish cadres is needed for 
quicker development. The ardent Yevsek Dimanshtein wrote that "we do not aim to create a 
Jewish majority in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast as soon as possible; ... this would 
contradict to the principles of internationalism. "[109] 

But despite all these measures, during the next three years only another 11,000 to eight or 
nine thousand Jews were added to those already living there; still, most of newcomers 
preferred to stay in the oblast capital closerto its railroad station and looked for 
opportunities to escape). Yet as we know, the Bolsheviks may not be defeated or dispirited. 
So, because of dissatisfaction with the KomZET, in 1936 the "Central Executive Committee of 
the USSR decided to partially delegate the overseeing of Jewish resettlement in the Jewish 
Autonomous Oblast to the resettlement department of the NKVD."[110] In August of 1936, 
the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR proclaimed that "for the first 
time in the history of the Jewish people, their ardent desire to have their own homeland has 
been realized and their own national statehood has been established. "[Ill] And now they 
began planning resettlement of 150,000 more Jews to Birobidzhan. 

Looking back at it, the Soviet efforts to convert the Jews to agriculture suffered the same 
defeat as the Tsarist efforts a century before. 

In the meantime, the year 1938 approached. KomZET was closed, OZET was disbanded, and 
the main Yevseks in Moscow and the administrators of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast were 
arrested. Those Birobidzhan Jews who could left for the cities of the Far East or for Moscow. 
According to the 1939 Census, the general population of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast 
consisted of 108,000 people; however, "the number of Jews there remained secret ... the 
Jewish population of Birobidzhan was still low." Presumably, eighteen Jewish kolkhozes still 
existed, of 40-50 families each,[112] but in those kolkhozes ... they conversed and 
corresponded with the authorities in Russian. 


Yet what could Birobidzhan have become for Jews? Just forty-five years later, the Israeli 
General Beni Peled emphatically explained why neither Birobidzhan nor Uganda could give 
the Jewish people a sense of connection with the land: "I simply feel that I am not ready to 
die for a piece of land in Russia, Uganda, or New Jersey!. .."[113] 

This sense of connection, after thousands of years of estrangement, was restored by Israel. 

# # # 

The migration of Jews to the major cities did not slowdown in the 1930s. The Jewish 
Encyclopedia reports that, according to the Census of 1926, there were 131,000 Jews in 
Moscow; in 1933, there were 226,500; and in 1939, there were 250,000 Jews. "As a result of 
the massive resettlement of Ukrainian Jews, their share among Moscow Jewry increased to 
80%."[114] In the Book on the Russian Jewry (1968), we find that in the 1930s up to a half- 
million Jews "were counted among government workers, sometimes occupying prominent 
posts, primarily in the economy."[115] (The author also reports, that in the 1930s "up to a 
half-million Jews became involved in industry, mainly in manual labor." On the other hand, 
Larin provides another figure, that among the industrial workers there were only 2.7% Jews 
or 200,000[116] or 2.5 times less than the first estimate). "The flow of Jews into the ranks of 
office workers grew constantly. The reason for this was the mass migration to cities, and also 
the sharp increase of the educational level, especially of Jewish youth. "[117] The Jews 
predominantly lived in the major cities, did not experience artificial social restrictions, so 
familiarto their Russian peers, and, it needs to be said, they studied devotedly, thus 
preparing masses of technical cadres for the Soviet future. 

Let's glance into statistical data: "in 1929 the Jews comprised 13.5% of all students in the 
higher educational institutions in the USSR; in 1933—12.2%; in 1936—13.3% of all students, 
and 18% of graduate students" (with their share of the total population being only 
1.8%);[118] from 1928 to 1935, "the number of Jewish students per 1,000 of the Jewish 
population rose from 8.4 to 20.4 [while] per 1,000 Belorussians there were 2.4 students, and 
per 1,000 Ukrainians - 2.0"; and by 1935 "the percentage of Jewish students exceeded the 
percentage of Jews in the general population of the country by almost seven times, thus 
standing out from all other peoples of the Soviet Union. "[119] G.V. Kostirchenko, who 
researched Stalin's policies on Jews, comments on the results of the 1939 census: "After all, 
Stalin could not disregard the fact that at the start of 1939 out of every 1,000 Jews, 268 had 
a high school education, and 57 out of 1,000 had higher education" (among Russians the 
figures were, respectively, 81 and 6 per 1,000). [120] It is no secret that "highly successful 
completion of higher education or doctoral studies allowed individuals to occupy socially- 
prestigious positions in the robustly developing Soviet economy of the 1930s."[121] 

However, in The Book on Russian Jewry we find that "without exaggeration, after Ezhov's 
purges, not a single prominent Jewish figure remained at liberty in Soviet Jewish society, 
journalism, culture, or even in the science."[122] Well, it was absolutely not like that, and it 


is indeed a gross exaggeration. (Still, the same author, Grigory Aronson, in the same book, 
only two pages later says summarily about the 1930s, that "the Jews were not deprived of 
general civil rights ... they continued to occupy posts in the state and party apparatus", and 
"there were quite a few Jews ... in the diplomatic corps, in the general staff of the army, and 
among the professors in the institutions of higher learning. ..Thus we enter into the year 
1939." [123] 

The voice of Moscow was that of the People's Artist, Yury Levitan -"the voice of the USSR", 
that incorruptible prophet of our Truth, the main host of the radio station of the Comintern 
and a favorite of Stalin. Entire generations grew up, listening to his voice: he read Stalin's 
speeches and summaries of Sovinformburo [the Soviet Information Bureau], and the famous 
announcements about the beginning and the end of the war.[124] 

In 1936 Samuil Samosud became the main conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre and served on 
that post for many years. Mikhail Gnesin continued to produce music "in the style of modern 
European music and in the style of the so-called 'New Jewish music'"; Gnesin's sisters 
successfully ran the music school, which developed into the outstanding Musical Institute. 
The ballet of Aleksandr Krein was performed in the Mariinsky and Bolshoi theatres. Well, 
Krein distinguished himself by his symphony, Rhapsody, that is, a Stalin's speech set to music. 
Krein's brother and nephew flourished also. [125] A number of brilliant musicians rose to 
national and later to international fame: Grigory Ginzburg, Emil Gilels, YakovZak, LevOborin, 
David Oistrakh, Yakov Flier and many others. Many established theatre directors, theatre 
and literary critics, and music scholars continued to work without hindrance. 

Examining the culture of the 1930s, it is impossible to miss the extraordinary achievements 
of the songwriter composers. Isaak Dunaevsky, "a founder of genres of operetta and mass 
song in Soviet music", "composed easily digestible songs ... routinely glorifying the Soviet 
way of life (The March of Merry Lads, 1933; The Song of Kakhovka, 1935; The Song about 
Homeland, 1936; The Song of Stalin, 1936, etc.). Official propaganda on the arts declared 
these songs ... the embodiment of the thoughts and feelings of millions of Soviet 
people. "[126] Dunaevsky's tunes were used as the identifying melody of Moscow Radio. He 
was heavily decorated for his service: he was the first of all composers to be awarded the 
Order of the Red Banner of Labour and elected to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in the 
notorious year 1937. Later he was also awarded the Order of Lenin. He used to preach to 
composers that the Soviet people do not need symphonies. [127] 

Matvey Blanterand the brothers Daniil and Dmitry Pokrass were famous for their 
complacent hit song If War Strikes Tomorrow ("we will instantly crush the enemy") and for 
their earlier hit the Budyonny March. There were many other famous Jewish songwriters 
and composers in 1930s and later: OskarFeltsman, Solovyev-Sedoy, llya Frenkel, Mikhail 
Tanich, Igor Shaferan, Yan Frenkel and Vladimir Shainsky, etc. They enjoyed copy numbers in 
the millions, fame, royalties — come on, who dares to name those celebrities among the 
oppressed? And after all, alongside the skillfully written songs, how much blaring Soviet 


propaganda did they chum out, confusing, brainwashing, and deceiving the public and 
crippling good taste and feelings? 

What about movie industry? The modern Israeli Jewish Encyclopedia states that in the 1930s 
"the main role of movies was to glorify the successes of socialism; a movie's entertainment 
value was minimal. Numerous Jewish filmmakers participated in the development of 
standards of a unified and openly ideological film industry, conservative in form and 
obsessively didactic. Many of them were already listed in the previous chapter; take, for 
example, D. Vertov's Symphony of the Donbass, 1931, released immediately after the 
Industrial Party Trial. Here are a few of the then-celebrated names: F. Ermler (The Coming, 
The Great Citizen, Virgin Soil Upturned), S. Yutkevich (The Coming, The Miners), the famous 
Mikhail Romm (Lenin in October, Lenin in 1918), L. Arnshtam (Girlfriends, Friends), I. 
Trauberg (The Son of Mongolia, The Year 1919), A. Zarkhi and I. Kheifits (Hot Days, 
Ambassador of the Baltic). [128] Obviously, filmmakers were not persecuted in the 1930s, 
though many cinematography, production and film distribution managers were arrested; 
two high-ranking bosses of the central management of the cinema industry, B.Shumyatsky 
and S. Dukelsky, were even shot. [129] 

In the 1930s, Jews clearly comprised a majority among filmmakers. So, who was reallythe 
victim - deceived viewers, whose souls were steamrolled with lies and rude didactics, or the 
filmmakers, who "forged documentaries, biographies and produced pseudo-historical and 
essentially unimportant propaganda films," characterized by "phony monumentality and 
inner emptiness"? The Jewish Encyclopedia adds sternly: "Huge numbers of Jewish 
operators and directors were engaged in making popular science, educational, and 
documentary films, in the most official sphere of the Soviet cinematography, where adroit 
editing helped to produce a "genuine documentary" out of a fraud. For example, R. Karmen, 
did it regularly without scruples."[130] (He was a glorified Soviet director, producer of many 
documentaries about the civil war in Spain and the Nuremberg Trials; he made "the 
anniversary-glorifying film The Great Patriotic War", Vietnam, and a film about Cuba; he was 
a recipient of three USSR State Prizes (the Stalin Prize) and the Lenin Prize; he held the titles 
of the People's Artist of the USSR and the Hero of the Socialist Labor). [131] Let's not forget 
filmmaker Konrad Wolf, the brother of the famous Soviet spy, Marcus Wolf.[132] 

No, the official Soviet atmosphere of 1930s was absolutely free of ill will toward Jews. And 
until the war, the overwhelming majority of Soviet Jewry sympathized with the Soviet 
ideology and sided with the Soviet regime. "There was no Jewish Question indeed in the 
USSR before the war -or almost none"; then the "open anti-Semites were not yet in charge 
of newspapers and journals ... they did not control personnel departments" [133] (quite the 
opposite - many such positions were occupied by Jews). 

Sure, then Soviet "culture" consisted of "Soviet patriotism," i.e., of producing art in 
accordance with directives from above. Unfortunately, many Jews were engaged in that 
pseudo-cultural sphere and some of them even rose to supervise the Russian language 


culture. In the early 1930s we see B.M. Volin-Fradkin at the head of the Main Administration 
for Literary and Publishing Affairs (GlavLit), the organ of official censorship, directing the 
development of the culture. Many of the GlavLit personnel were Jewish. For example, in 
GlavLit, from 1932 to 1941 we see A.I. Bendik, who would become the Director of the Book 
Palace during the war.[134] Emma Kaganova,the spouse of Chekist Pavel Sudoplatov was 
"trusted to manage the activities of informants among the Ukrainian intelligentsia. "[135] 
After private publishers were abolished, "a significant contribution to the organization and 
management of Soviet government publishers was made by S. Alyansky, M. Volfson, I. lonov 
(Bernshtein), A. Kantorovich, B. Malkin, I. Berite, B. Feldman, and many others. "[136] Soon 
all book publishing was centralized in the State Publishing House and there was no other 
place for an author to get his work published. 

The Jewish presence was also apparent in all branches of the printed propaganda Works of 
the clumsy caricaturist Boris Efimov could be found in the press everyday (he produced 
extremely filthy images of Western leaders; for instance, he had portrayed Nicholas II in a 
crown carrying a rifle, trampling corpses). Every two to three days, sketches of other dirty 
satirists, like G. Riklin, the piercingly caustic D. Zaslavsky, the adroit Radek, the persistent 
Sheinin and the brothers Tur, appeared in press. A future writer L. Kassil wrote essays for 
Izvestiya. There were many others: R. Karmen, T. Tess, Kh. Rappoport, D. Chernomordikov, B. 
Levin, A. Kantorovich, and Ya. Perelman. These names I found in Izvestiya only, and there 
were two dozen more major newspapers feeding the public with blatant lies. In addition, 
there existed a whole sea of ignoble mass propaganda brochures saturated with lies. When 
they urgently needed a mass propaganda brochure devoted to the Industrial Party Trial 
(such things were in acute demand for all of the 1930s), one B. Izakson knocked it out under 
the title: "Crush the viper of intervention!" Diplomat E. Gnedin, the son of Parvus, wrote 
lying articles about the "incurable wounds of Europe" and the imminent death of the West. 
He also wrote a rebuttal article, Socialist Labor in the Forests of the Soviet North,in response 
to Western "slanders" about the allegedly forced labor of camp inmates felling timber. 
When in the 1950s Gnedin returned from a camp after a long term (though, it appears, not 
having experienced tree felling himself), he was accepted as a venerable sufferer and no one 
reminded him of his lies in the past. 

In 1929-31 Russian historical science was destroyed; the Archaeological Commission, the 
Northern Commission, Pushkin House, the Library of the Academy of Sciences were all 
abolished, traditions were smashed, and prominent Russian historians were sent to rot in 
camps. (How much did we hear about that destruction?) Third and fourth-rate Russian 
historians then surged in to occupy the vacant posts and brainwash us for the next half a 
century. Sure, quite a few Russian slackers made their careers then, but Jewish ones did not 
miss their chance. 

Already in the 1930s, Jews played a prominent role in Soviet science, especially in the most 
important and technologically-demanding frontiers, and their role was bound to become 


even more important in the future. "By the end of 1920s, Jews comprised 13.6% of all 
scientists in the country; by 1937 their share increased to 17.6%"; in 1939 there were more 
than 15,000 or 15.7% Jewish scientists and lecturers in the institutions of higher 

In physics, member of the Academy A. F. loffe nurtured a highly successful school. As early as 
1918, he founded the Physical-Technical Institute in Petrograd. Later, "fifteen affiliated 
scientific centers were created"; they were headed by loffe's disciples. "His former students 
worked in many other institutes, in many ways determining the scientific and technological 
potential of the Soviet Union."[138] (However, repressions did not bypass them. In 1938, in 
the Kharkov Physics-Technological Institute, six out of eight heads of departments were 
arrested: Vaisberg, Gorsky, Landau, Leipunsky, Obreimov, Shubnikov; a seventh— Rueman— 
was exiled; only Slutskin remained). [139] The name of Semyon Aisikovich, the constructor of 
Lavochkin fighter aircraft, was long unknown to the public. [140] Names of many other 
personalities in military industry were kept secret as well. Even now we do not know all of 
them. For instance, M. Shkud "oversaw development of powerful radio stations,"[141] yet 
there were surely others, whom we do not know, working on the development of no less 
powerful jammers.) 

Numerous Jewish names in technology, science and its applications prove that the flower of 
several Jewish generations went into these fields. Flipping through the pages of biographical 
tomes of the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia, which only lists the Jews who were born or lived 
in Russia, we see an abundance of successful and gifted people with real accomplishments 
(which also means the absence of obstacles to career entry and advancement in general). 

Of course, scientists had to pay political tribute too. Take, for example, "the First National 
Conference for the Planning of Science" in 1931. Academician loffe stated that "modern 
capitalism is no longer capable of a technological revolution," it is only possible as a result of 
a social revolution, which has "transformed the once barbaric and backward Russia into the 
Socialist Union of Republics." He praised the leadership of the proletariat in science and said 
that science can be free only under Soviet stewardship. "Militant philosopher" E. Ya. Kolman 
("one of main ideologists of Soviet science in the 1930s"; he fulminated against the Moscow 
school of mathematics) asserted that "we should ... introduce labor discipline in the sciences, 
adopt collective methods, socialist competition, and shock labor methods; he said that 
science advances "thanks to the proletarian dictatorship," and that each scientist should 
study Lenin's Materialism and Empirico-criticism. Academician A.G. Goldman (Ukraine) 
enthusiastically chimed in: "The academy now became the leading force in the struggle for 
the Marxist dialectic in science!"[142] 

The Jewish Encyclopedia summarizes: "At the end of 1930s, the role of the Jews in the 
various spheres of the Soviet life reached its apogee for the entire history of the Soviet 
regime." According to the 1939 census, 40% of all economically active Jews were state 
employees. Around 364,000 were categorized among the intelligentsia. Of them, 106,000 


were engineers or technologists, representing 14% of all professionals of this category 
country-wide; 139,000 were managers at various levels, 7% of all administrators in the USSR; 
"39,000 doctors, or slightly less than 27% of all doctors; 38,000 teachers, or more than 3% of 
all teachers; "more than 6,500 writers, journalists, and editors; more than 5,000 actors and 
filmmakers; more than 6,000 musicians; a little less than 3,000 artists and sculptors; and 
more than 5,000 lawyers ."[143] 

In the opinion of the Encyclopedia, such impressive representation by a national minority, 
even in the context of official internationalism and brotherhood of the peoples of the USSR, 
created the prerequisites for the backlash by the state. "[144] 


During his political career, Stalin often allied with Jewish leaders of the communist party and 
relied on many Jewish back-benchers. By the mid-1930s he saw in the example of Hitler all 
the disadvantages of being a self-declared enemy of the Jews. Yet he likely harbored hostility 
toward them (his daughter's memoirs support this), though even his closest circle was 
probably unaware of it. However, struggling against the Trotskyites, he, of course, realized 
this aspect as well — his need to further get rid of the Jewish influence in the party. And, 
sensing the war, he perhaps was also grasping that "proletarian internationalism" alone 
would not be sufficient and that the notion of the "homeland," and even the "Homeland", 
would be much needed. 

S. Schwartz lamented about a nti -revolutionary transformation of the party as the 
"unprecedented 'purge' of the ruling party, the virtual destruction of the old party and the 
establishment of a new communist party under the same name in its place - new in social 
composition and ideology." From 1937 he also noted a "gradual displacement of Jews from 
the positions of power in all spheres of public life." "Among the old Bolsheviks who were 
involved in the activity before the party came to power and especially among those with the 
pre-revolutionary involvement, the percentage of Jews was noticeably higher than in the 
party on average; in younger generations, the Jewish representation became even smaller... 
As a result of the purge, almost all important Jewish communists left the scene."[145] Lazar 
Kaganovich was the exception. Still, in 1939, after all the massacres, the faithful communist 
Zemlyachka was made the deputy head of the Soviet of People's Commissars, and S. Dridzo- 
Lozovsky was assigned the position of Deputy to the Narkom of Foreign Affairs. [146] And yet, 
in the wider picture, Schwartz's observations are reasonable as was demonstrated above. 

S. Schwartz adds that in the second half of 1930s Jews were gradually barred from entering 
"institutions of higher learning, which were preparing specialists forforeign relations and 
foreign trade, and were barred from military educational institutions. "[147] The famous 
defector from the USSR, I.S. Guzenko, shared rumors about a secret percentage quota on 
Jewish admissions to the institutions of higher learning which was enforced from 1939. 


In the 1990s they even wrote that Molotov, taking over the People's Commissariat of 
Foreign Affairs in the spring of 1939, publicly announced during the general meeting with 
the personnel that he "will deal with the synagogue here," and that he began firing Jews on 
the very same day. (Still, Litvinov was quite useful during the war in his role as Soviet 
ambassador to the U.S. They say that upon his departure from the U.S. in 1943 he even 
dared to pass a personal letter to Roosevelt suggesting that Stalin had unleashed a n anti- 
Semitic campaign in the USSR). [148] 

By the mid-1930s the sympathy of European Jewry toward the USSR had further increased. 
Trotsky explained it in 1937 on his way to Mexico: "The Jewish intelligentsia ... turns to the 
Comintern not because they are interested in Marxism or Communism, but in search of 
support against aggressive [German] anti-Semitism. "[149] Yet it was this same Comintern 
that approved the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the pact that dealt a mortal blow to the East 
European Jewry! 

"In September 1939, hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews fled from the advancing German 
armies, fleeing further and further east and trying to head for the territory occupied by the 
Red Army.... For the first two months they succeeded because of the favorable attitude of 
the Soviet authorities. The Germans quite often encouraged this flight." But "at the end of 
November the Soviet government closed the border."[150] 

In different areas of the front things took shape differently: in some areas, the Soviets would 
not admit Jewish refugees at all; in other places they were welcomed but later sometimes 
sent back to the Germans. Overall, it is believed that around 300,000 Jews managed to 
migrate from the Western to the Eastern Poland in the first months of the war, and later the 
Soviets evacuated them deeper into the USSR. They demanded that Polish Jews register as 
Soviet citizens, but many of them did not rush to accept Soviet citizenship: after all, they 
thought, the war would soon be over, and they would return home, or goto America, or to 
Palestine. (Yet in the eyes of the Soviet regime they thereby immediately fell under the 
category of "suspected of espionage," especially if they tried to correspond with relatives in 
Poland). [151] Still, we read in the Chicago Sentinel that the Soviet Union gave refuge to 90% 
of all European Jewish refugees fleeing from Hitler."[152] 

According to the January 1939 census, 3,020,000 Jews lived in the USSR. Now, after 
occupation of the Baltics, annexation of a part of Poland, and taking in Jewish refugees, 
approximately two million more Jews were added, giving a total of around 5 million. [153] 
Before 1939, the Jews were the seventh largest people in the USSR number-wise; now, after 
annexation of all Western areas, they became the fourth largest people of the USSR, after 
the three Slavic peoples, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian. "The mutual non -Aggress ion 
Pact of 23 August 1939 between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union evoked serious fear 
about the future of Soviet Jewry, though the policy of the Soviet Union toward its Jewish 
citizens was not changed." And although there were some reverse deportations, overall, 


"the legal status of Jewish population remained unchanged during the 20 months of the 
Soviet-Germa n col la boration." [154] 

With the start of war in Poland, Jewish sympathies finally crystallized and Polish Jews, and 
the Jewish youth in particular, met the advancing Red Army with exulting enthusiasm. Thus, 
according to many testimonies (including M. Agursky's one), Polish Jews, like their co-ethnics 
in Bessarabia, Bukovina and Lithuania, became the main pillarof the Soviet regime, 
supporting it tooth and nail. 

Yet how much did these East European Jews know about what was going on in the USSR? 

They unerringly sensed that a catastrophe was rolling at them from Germany, though still 
not fully or clearly recognized, but undoubtedly a catastrophe. And so the Soviet welcome 
appeared to them to embody certain salvation. 


[I] Izvestiya, January 22, 1928, p. 1. 
[2] Izvestiya, January 26, 1928, p. 3. 

[3] A. Sutton. Wall Street and the BolshevikRevolution. Moscow, 1998; p. 210, 212. 
[4] Ibid, p. 214, 215. 

[5] A. Voronel // "22": Obshchestvenno-pol iticheskiy i literaturniyzhurnal evreyskoyintelligentsiiizSSSRv 
Izraile [Social, Political and Literary Journal of the Jewish Intel I i gents i a from the USSR in Israel (henceforth - 
"22")]. Tel-Aviv, 1986, (50), p. 160. 

[6] Izvestiya, November 30, 1936, p. 2. 

[7] Rossiyskaya Evreiskaya Entsiklopediya [The Russian Jewish Encyclopedia (henceforth— RJE)]. 2nd Ed. 
Moscow, 1994. v.l, p. 527-528. 

[8] Robert Conquest. Bolshoy Terror [The Great Terror]. Firenze: Edizioni Aurora, 1974, p. 70, 73. 

[9] RJE, v. 3, p. 95. 

[10] Izvestiya, July 14, 1930, p. 1. 

[II] Izvestiya, February 11, 1934, p. 1-2. 
[12] RJE, v. 2, p. 163. 

[13] RJE, v. 3, p. 189. 
[14] Ibid., p. 283, 344. 

[15] Izvestiya, January 18, 1936, p. 1 and February 6, 1936, p. 3. 
[16] RJE, V. 1, p. 394. 
[17] Ibid., p. 313. 


[18] See, for example: Izvestiya, June 12, 1930;March 14 and 17, 1931; January 6, 1934;January 10 and 
February 21,1936. 

[19] Izvestiya, December 25, 1930, p. 1. 

[20] Izvestiya, March 14, 1931, p. 3-4; March 17, p. 1-2. 

[21] Izvestiya, February 2, 1931, p. 4; May 30, p. 1. 

[22] Izvestiya, February 20, 1936, p. 4. 

[23] RJE, v. 3, p. 497. 

[24] RJE, v. 2, p. 98, 256. 

[25] RJE, v. 1, p. 418. 

[26] Ibid., p. 483. 

[27] See, for example: Izvestiya, May 17, 1931, p. 3. 

[28] Izvestiya, December 9, 1936, p. 1. 

[29] Izvestiya, July 7, 1930, p. 2. 

[30] RJE, v.l, p. 222, 387;v. 3, p. 237, 464. 

[31] Izvestiya, November 14, 1930, p. 2; November 16, p. 4. 

[32] Izvestiya, February 13, 1931, p. 3. 

[33] Izvestiya, April 9,1936, p. 2. 

[34] Izvestiya, November 5, 1930, p. 2; November 11, p. 5. 
[35] Izvestiya, June 11, 1936, p. 2. 

[36] V. Boguslavskiy.Vzashchitu Kunyayeva [In Defense of Kunyayev] // "22", 1980, (16), p. 174. 
[37] Izvestiya, April 24, 1931, p. 2. 
[38] Izvestiya, May 18, 1930, p. 1. 

[39] Kratkaya Evreiskaya Entsiklopediya [The Short Jewish Encyclopedia (henceforth —SJE)]. Jerusalem, 1976- 
2001. v. 4, p. 879. 

[40] RJE, v. 3, p. 58. 

[41] RJE, v. 1, p. 101. 

[42] Aron Abramovich. V reshayushchey voyne: Uchastie i rol evreyev SSSR v voyne protiv natsizma [In the 
Deciding War Participation and Role of Soviet Jews in the War against Nazism]. 2nd Edition. Tel -Aviv, 1982. v.l, 
p. 61. 

[43] RJE, v. 1, p. 63, 376, 515; v. 2, p. 120, 491; v. 3, p. 300-301. 


[44] RJE, v. 1, p. 244, 350;v. 2, p. 78; v. 3, p. 179, 206-207,493-494. See alsoAron Abramovich.V 
reshayushchey voyne. [In the Deciding War], v. 1, p. 62. 

[45] LYu. Krichevsky. Evrei v apparate VChK-OGPU v 20-e gody [The Jews in the apparatus of the Cheka-OGPU 
inthe 1920s]// Evrei i russkaya revolyutsia: Material i i issledovaniya [Jews and the Russian Revolution: 
Materials and Research] Compiled by O.V. Budnitsky. Moscow; Jerusalem: Gesharim, 1999, p. 343-344; see also 
Izvestiya, December 20, 1937, p. 2. 

[46] Izvestiya, November 27, 1935, p. 1; November 29, p. 1. 
[47] Robert Conquest. Bolshoyterror [The Great Terror], p. 187. 
[48] RJE, v. 3, p. 473. 

[49] Aleksandr Orlov. From the introduction to the book Taynaya istoriya stalinskikh prestupleniy [The Secret 
History of Stalin's Crimes] //Vremya i my: Mezhdunarodny zhurnal literatury i obshchestvennykh problem 
[Epoch and We: International Journal of Literature and Social Problems (henceforth - EW)]. New York, 1982, 
No.67, p. 202. 

[50] RJE, v. 2, p. 62. 

[51] Izvestiya, September 27, 1936, p. 1; September 30, p. 3. See also RJE, v. 1, p. 124. 
[52] RJE, v. 2, p. 187, 218, 432; v. 3, p. 358. 

[53] A. Kokurin, N. Petrov. NKVD: struktura, funktsii, kadry [The NKVD: Organization, Functions, Cadres] // 
Svobodnaya mysl [Free Thought], 1997, (6), p. 113-116. 

[54] RJE, v. 2, p. 22, 51-52,389. 

[55] A. Kokurin, N. Petrov. NKVD: struktura, funktsii, kadry [The NKVD: Organization, Functions, Cadres] // 
Svobodnaya mysl [Free Thought], 1997, (6), p. 118. 

[56] RJE, v. 2, p.293;v. 3, p. 311. 

[57] RJE, v. 1, p. 170. 

[58] G.V. Kostirchenko. Taynaya pol itika Stal ina: Vlast i antisemitizm [Stalin's Secret Pol icy: Power and Anti- 
semitism]. Moscow: Mezhdunarodnie otnosheniya [International Relations], 2001, p. 210. 

[59] The names of those executed and the year of execution are italicized throughout the text; in other 
instances the date indicates the year of arrest;those who committed suicideon the eve of arrestand those 
who died in custody are mentioned specifically. 

[60] See for example: NV. Petrov, K.V. Skorkin. Kto rukovodil NKVD: 1934-1941:Spravochnik [Who Ran the 
NKVD: 1934-1941. Information Book]. Moscow: Zvenya, 1999. 

[61] Pavel Sudoplatov.Spetsoperatsii: Lubyanka i Kreml : 1930s-1950s [Special Operations: Lubyanka [Prison] 
and the Kreml in: the 1930s through the 1950s]. Moscow: OLMA-Press, 1997, p. 440-441. 

[62] Izvestiya, May 16, 1992 p. 6. 

[63] E. Zhirnov. "Protsedura kazni nosilaomerzitelniy kharakter" [A HorribleExecution]// Komsomolskaya 
Pravda, October 28, 1990, p. 2. 


[64] Robert Conquest. Bolshoy Terror [The Great Terror], p. 797-798. 

[65] LYu. Krichevsky. Evrei v apparate VChK-OGPU v 20-e gody [The Jews in the apparatus of the Cheka-OGPU 
in the 1920s]// Evrei i russkaya revolyutsia: Material i i issledovaniya [Jews and the Russian Revolution], p. 343, 

[66] Robert Conquest. Bolshoy Terror [The Great Terror], p. 459. 

[67] Yu. Margol in.Tel-Avivskiy bloknot [Tel -Aviv Notebook] // Novoe RusskoeSlovo [The New Russian Word], 
New York, August 5, 1968. 

[68] Robert Conquest. Bolshoy Terror [The Great Terror], p. 427-428, 430. 

[69] See for example: O.F. Suvenirov. Tragediya RKKA: 1937-1938. [The Tragedy of the Red Army: 1937-1938] 
Moscow, Terra, 1998. 

[70] RJE, v. 3, p. 430. See also Aron Abramovich. V reshayushchey voyne. [Inthe Deciding War], v. 1, p. 66. See 
alsoV. Katuntsev, I. Kots. Intsident: Podopleyka Khasanskikh sobitiy [The Incident: the Causes of the Lake 
KhasanConflict]//Rodina, 1991,(6), p. 17. 

[71] RJE, v. 3, p. 82. See also Aron Abramovich, V reshayushchey voyne. [In the DecidingWar] v. 1, p. 64-66. 

[72] St. Ivanovich. Evrei i sovetskaya diktatura [The Jews and the Soviet Dictatorship]// Evreyskiy Mir: 
Ezhegodnik na 1939 [Jewish World: Yearbook for 1939]. (henceforth — JW-1). Paris:Obedinenierussko- 
evreyskoy intelligentsii [Association of the Russo-Jewish Intelligentsia], p. 43. 

[73] Ibid., p. 44-46. 

[74] PismoV.I. Vernadskogo I.I. Petrunkevichu ot 14 lyunya 1927 [A letter from V.I. Vernadsky to I.I. 
Petrunkevich of June 14, 1927]// Novy Mir [New World],1989, (12), p. 220. 

[75] Mikhail Kheyfetz. Uroki proshlogo [Lessons ofthe Past]// "22", 1989,(63), p. 202. 

[76] Sonja Margolina. Das Endeder Lugen: Russland und dieJuden im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin:Siedler Verlag, 
1992, S. 84. 

[77] M. Tsarinnik.Ukrainsko-evreyskiydialog[Ukraino-JewishDialogue]//"22", 1984,(37), p. 160. 

[78] S.M. Schwartz. Antisemitizm v Sovetskom Soyuze [Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union]. New York: Chekov's 
Publishing House, 1952, p. 8, 98-99, 107-108. 

[79] New York Times, January 15, 1931, p. 9. 

[80] I.V. Stalin.Sochineniya (vl3 tomakh) [Written Works (in 13 vol umes)]. M.: Gospolitizdat, 1946-1951. v. 13, 
p. 28. 

[81] Izvestiya, November 30, 1936, p. 2. 

[82] S. Pozner. Sovetskaya Rossiya [TheSoviet Russia] //JW-1, p. 260. 

[83] S.M. Schwartz. Antisemitizm v Sovetskom Soyuze [Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union]. New York: Chekov's 
Publishing House, 1952, p. 118. 

[84] St. Ivanovich. Evrei i Sovetskaya diktatura [The Jews and the Soviet Dictatorship] //JW-1, p. 50, 51,52. 

[85] Ibid., p. 51-52. 


[86] B. Orlov. Rossiya bezevreyev [Russia without Jews] // "22", 1988, (60), p. 160. 

[87] Yu. Margolin. Tel -Avivskiybloknot[Tel-AvivNotebook] // Novoe RusskoeSlovo [The New Russian Word], 
New York, August 5, 1968. 

[88] SJE, v. 8, p. 167. 

[89] Ibid., p. 176. 

[90] Yu. Mark. Evreyskaya shkola vSovetskom Soyuze [The Jewish School in the Soviet Union] // Kniga o 
russkomevreystve: 1917-1967 [The Book of Russian Jewry: 1917-1967 (henceforth — BRJ)]. New York: 
Association ofRussian Jews, 1968, p. 239. 

[91] SJE, v. 8, p. 176,177, 179. 

[92] RJE, v. 2, p. 58, 432. 

[93] SJE, v. 8, p. 179,181. 

[94] Yu. Mark. Literatura na idish vSovetskoy Rossii [Li teraturein Yiddish inSovietRussia]//BRJ, p. 216. 

[95] Ibid., p. 230. 

[96] SJE, v. 8, p. 182-183. 

[97] RJE, v. 1, p. 15, 417; v. 2, p. 84. 

[98] SJE, v. 8, p. 198-199. 

[99] Gershon Svet. Evreiskaya religiya vSovetskoy Rossii [TheJewish Religion in Soviet Russia] // BRJ, p. 209. 

[100] RJE, v. 1, p. 145; v. 2, p. 260. 

[101] Izvestiya, July 19, 1931, p. 2. 

[102] SJE, v. 8, p. 173,190, 193. 

[103] Izvestiya. December 12, 1930, p. 2. 

[104] S.M. Schwartz, Birobidjan//BRJ, p. 170-171,200. 

[105] Ibid., p. 177-78. 

[106]S.M. Schwartz, Birobidjan//BRJ, p. 173,180. 
[107] Izvestiya, October 26,1936, p. 3. 
[108] RJE, v. 1, p. 214. 

[109]S.M. Schwartz. Birobidjan//BRJ, p. 176. 
[110] SJE, v. 8, p. 190. 

[Ill] S.M. Schwartz. Birobidjan//BRJ, p. 177. 
[112] Ibid., p. 178, 179. 


[113] Beni Peled. Mi ne mozhem zhdat eshcho dve tisyachi let! [We Cannot Wait Two Thousand Years More!] 
[Interview] 1 1 "11", 1981,(17), p. 116. 

[114] SJE, v. 5, p. 477-478. 

[115] G. Aronson. Evreyskiy vopros v epokhu Stalina [The Jewish Question in the Stalin's Era]//BRJ, p. 137 
[116]Yu. Larin.Evrei i anti-Semitism v SSSR [The Jews and Anti-Semitism inthe USSR]. M.; L: GIZ, 1929,p. 245. 
[117] SJE, v. 8, p. 190. 
[118] Ibid. 

[119] S. Pozner. Sovetskaya Rossiya [The Soviet Russia] //JW-1, p. 264. 

[120] G. Kostirchenko.Taynaya politika Stalina [TheSecret Policy of Stalin], p. 198. 

[121] SJE, v. 8, p. 190. 

[122] G. Aronson. Evreyskiy vopros v epokhu Stalina [The Jewish Question in the Stalin's Era]// BRJ, p. 138. 
[123] Ibid., p. 140-141. 
[124] RJE, v. 2, p. 150. 

[125]Gershon Svet. Evrei v russkoy muzikalnoyculturevsovetskiy period [The Jews in Russian Musical Culture 
inthe Soviet Period]// BRJ, p. 256-262. 

[126] SJE, v. 2, p. 393-394. 

[127] Yuriy El agin. Ukroshchenie iskusstv [Conquest of the Arts] / Introduction by M. Rostropovich. New York: 
Ermitazh, 1988, p. 340-345. 

[128] SJE, v. 4, p. 277. 

[129] Ibid., p. 275. 

[130] Ibid., p. 277-278. 

[131] SJE, v. 4, p. 116. 

[132] RJE, v. 1, p. 245-246. 

[133] Lev Kopelev. O pravde i terpimosti [Of Truth and Tolerance]. New York: Khronika Press, 1982, p. 56-57. 
[134] RJE, v. 1, p. 108, 238-239. 

[135] Pavel Sudoplatov.Spetsoperatsii : Lubyanka i Kreml : 1930s -1950s [Special Operations: Lubyanka [Prison] 
and the Kremlin:the 1930s through the 1950s]. Moscow: OLMA-Press, 1997, p. 19. 

[136] SJE, v. 4, p. 397. 

[137] SJE, v. 8, p. 190-191. 

[138] LL Mininberg. Sovetskie evrei v nauke i promishlennosti SSSR vperiod Vtoroi mirovoi voyny (1941 -1945) 
[Soviet Jews inthe Soviet Scienceand Industry duringthe Second World War (1941-1945)]. Moscow, 1995, p. 


[139] Alexander Weiss berg. Conspiracy of Silence. London, 1952, p. 359-360. 
[140] SJE, v. 4, p. 660. 
[141] RJE, v. 3, p. 401. 

[142] Izvestiya, April 7, 1931, p. 2; April 11, p. 3; April 12, p. 4. See also RJE, v. 2, p. 61-62. 
[143] SJE, v. 8, p. 191. 
[144] SJE, v. 8, p. 191. 

[145]S.M. Schwartz. Antisemitizm v Sovetskom Soyuze [Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union]. New York: 
Chekov's Publ ishing House, 1952, p. 111-112,114, 121-122. 

[146] RJE, v. 1, p. 486; v. 2, p. 196. 

[147] S.M. Schwartz. Evrei v Sovetskom Soyuze s nachala Vtoroi mirovoi voyny (1939-1965) [Jews in the Soviet 
Union after the Beginning of the Second World War (1939-1965)]. New York: Publication of the American 
Jewish Workers Committee, 1966, p. 410. 

[148]Z. Sheinis, M.M. Litvinov. Posledniedni [The LastDays]// Sovershenno Sekretno [Top Secret]. Moscow, 
1992,(4), p. 15. 

[149] Lev Trotsky. Pochemu oni kayalis [WhyThey Repented] // EW, New York, 1985, (87), p. 226. 

[150] E. Kulisher. Izgnanie i deportatsiya evreev [The Expulsion and Deportation of the Jews] // Evrei skiy mir 
[The Jewish World], v. 2 (henceforth— JW-2). New York: Soyuz russkikh evreyev v New Yorke [The Union of 
Russian Jews in New York], 1944, p. 259. 

[151] S.M. Schwartz. Evrei v Sovetskom Soyuze s nachala Vtoroi mirovoi voyny (1939-1965) [Jews in the Soviet 
Union after the Beginning of the Second World War (1939-1965)]. New York: Publication of the American 
Jewish Workers Committee, 1966, p. 33-34. 

[152]The Sentinel, Chicago, Vol. XXXXIII, (13), 1946, 27 June, p.5. 

[153]G. Aronson. Evreyskiy vopros v epokhu Stalina [TheJewish Question in the Stalin's Era]// BRJ, p. 141. 

[154] I. Shekhman. Sovetskoe evreystvo v germano-sovetskoy voyne [Soviet Jewry inthe Russo-German War]// 
JW-2, p. 221-222. 


Chapter 20: In the camps of GULag 

If I haven't been there, it wouldn't be possible for me to compose this chapter. 

Before the camps I thought that "one should not notice nationalities", that there are no 
nationalities, there is only humankind. 

But when you are sent into the camp, you find it out: if you are of a lucky nationality then 
you are a fortunate man. You are provided for. You have survived! But if you are of 
a common nationality -well then, no offence... 

Because nationality is perhaps the most important trait that gives a prisoner a chance to be 
picked into the life-saving corps of "Idiots" [translator note: from Russian "npwflypoK" - a 
fool or idiot. This is an inmate slang term to denote other inmates who didn't do common 
labor but managed to obtain positions with easy duties, usually pretending to be incapable 
of doing hard work because of poor health]. Every experienced camp inmate can confirm 
that ethnic proportions among Idiots were very different from those in the general camp 
population. Indeed, there were virtually no Pribalts among Idiots, regardless of their actual 
number in the camp (and there were many of them); there were always Russians, of course, 
but in incomparably smaller proportion than in the camp on average (and those were often 
selected from orthodox members of the Party); on the other hand, some others were 
noticeably concentrated - Jews, Georgians, Armenians; and Azeris also ended there in higher 
proportions, and, to some extent, Caucasian mountaineers also. 

Certainly, none of them can be blamed for that. Every nation in the Gulag did its best 
crawling to survival, and the smallerand nimbler it was, the easierit was to accomplish. And 
again, Russians were the very last nation in "their own Russian camps", like they were in the 
German Kriegsgefan-genenlagers. 

Yet it is not us who could have blamed them, but it is they - Armenians, Georgians, 
highlanders, who would have been in their right to ask us: "Why did you establish these 
camps? Why do you force us to live in your state? Do not hold us and we will not land here 
and occupy these such attractive Idiotic positions! But while we are your prisoners - a la 
guerre comme a la guerre." 

But what about Jews? For Fate interwove Russian and Jews, perhaps forever, which is why 
this book is being written. 

Before that, before this very line, there will be readers who have been in the camps and who 
haven't been, who will be quick to contest the truth of what I say here. They will clai m that 
many Jews were forced to take part in common labor activities. They will deny that there 
were camps where Jews were the majority among Idiots. They will indignantly reject that 
nations in the camps were helping each other selectively, and, therefore, at the expense of 

Some others will not consider themselves as distinct "Jews" at all, perceiving themselves as 
Russians in everything. Besides, even if there was overrepresentation of Jews on key camp 


positions, it was absolutely unpremeditated, wasn't it? The selection was exclusively based 
on merit and personal talents and abilities to do business. Well, who is to blame if Russians 
lack business talents? 

There will be also those who will passionately assert directly opposite: that it was Jews who 
suffered worst in the camps. This is exactly how it is understood in the West: in Soviet camps 
nobody suffered as badly as Jews. Among the letters from readers of Ivan Denisovich there 
was one from an anonymous Jew: "You have met innocent Jews who languished in camps 
with you, and you obviously not at once witnessed their suffering and persecution. They 
endured double oppression: imprisonment and enmity from the rest of inmates. Tell us 
about these people!" 

And if I wished to generalize and state that the life of Jews in camps was especially difficult, 
then I would be allowed to do so and wouldn't be peppered with admonitions for unjust 
ethnic generalizations. But in the camps, where I was imprisoned, it was the other way 
around - the life of Jews, to the extent of possible generalization, was easier. 

Semen Badash, my campmate from Ekibastuz, recounts in his memoirs how he had managed 
to settle - later, in a camp at Norilsk - in the medical unit: Max Minz asked a radiologist Laslo 
Newsbaum to solicit for Badash before a free head of the unit. He was accepted (1). But 
Badash at least finished three years of medical school before imprisonment. Compare that 
with other nurses - Genkin, Gorelik, Gurevich (like one of my pals, L. Kopelev from Unzlag) - 
who never before in their lives had anything to do with medicine. 

Some people absolutely seriously write like this: A. Belinkov "was thrown into the most 
despicable category of Idiots..." (and I am tempted to inappropriately add "and languishes" 
here, though the "Languishers" were the social antipodes of Idiots and Belinkov never was 
among the Languishers). - "To be thrown into the group of ldiots"\ - what's an expression! 
"To be diminished by being accepted into the ranks of gentlemen"? And here goes the 
justification: "To dig soil? But at the age of 23 he not only never did it - he never saw a 
shovel in his life". Well then he had no other choice but to become an Idiot. 

Or read what Levitin-Krasnov wrote about one Pinsky, a literature expert, that he was a 
nurse in the camp. Which means that he, on the camp scale, has adhered well. However, 
Levitin presents this as an example of the greatest humiliation possible for a professor of the 

Or take prisoner who survived, Lev Razgon, a journalist and not a medic at all, who was 
heavily published afterwards. But from his story in "Ogonek" (1988) we find that he used to 
be a medic in the camp's medical unit, and, moreover, an unescorted medic. (From other his 
stories we can figure out that he also worked as a senior controller at a horrible timber 
logging station. But there is not a single story from which we can conclude that he ever 
participated in common labor.) 

Or a story of Frank Dikler, a Jew from faraway Brazil: he was imprisoned and couldn't speak 
Russian, of course, and guess what? He had pull in the camp, and he has became a chief of 
the medical unit's kitchen - a truly magnificent treasure! 


Or Alexandr Voronel, who was a "political youngster" when he landed in the camps, says 
that immediately aftergetting inthe camp, he was "readily assisted... by other Jewish 
inmates, who had not a slightest idea about my political views". A Jewish inmate, 
responsible for running the bathhouse (a very important Idiot as well), has spotted him 
instantly and "ordered him to come if he needs any help"; a Jew from prisoner security (also 
an Idiot) told another Jew, a brigadier: "There are two Jewish guys, Hakim, don't allow them 
to get in trouble". And the brigadier gave them strong protection. "Other thieves, especially 
"elders", approved him: You are so right, Hakim! You support your own kin! Yet we, Russians, 
are like wolves to each other"" (3). 

And let's not forget that even during camp imprisonment, by virtue of a common stereotype 
regarding all Jews as businessmen, many of them were getting commercial offers, 
sometimes even when they didn't actively look for such enterprises. Take, for instance, M. 
Hafez. He emphatically notes: "What a pity that I can't describe you those camp situations. 
There are so many rich, beautiful stories! However, the ethical code of a "reliable Jew" seals 
my mouth. You know even the smallest commercial secret should be kept forever. That's the 
law of the Tribe" (4). 

A Lett Ane Bernstein, one of my witnesses from Archipelago, thinks that he managed to 
survive in the camps only because in times of hardship he asked the Jews for help and that 
the Jews, judging by his last name and nimble manners, mistook him for their tribesman - 
and always provided assistance. He says that in all his camps Jews always constituted the 
upper crust, and that the most important free employees were also Jews (Shulman - head of 
special department, Greenberg - head of camp station, Kegels - chief mechanic of the 
factory), and, according to his recollections, they also preferred to select Jewish inmates to 
staff their units. 

This particular Jewish national contract between free bosses and inmates is impossible to 
overlook. A free Jew was not so stupid to actually see an "Enemy of the People" or an evil 
character preying on "the people's property" in an imprisoned Jew (unlike what a dumb- 
headed Russian saw in another Russian). He in the first place saw a suffering tribesman - and 
I praise them for this sobriety! Those who know about terrific Jewish mutual supportiveness 
(especially exacerbated by mass deaths of Jews under Hitler) would understand that a free 
Jewish boss simply could not indifferently watch Jewish prisoners flounder in starvation and 
die, and not help. But I am unable to imagine a free Russian employee who would save and 
promote his fellow Russian prisoners to the privileged positions only because of their 
nationality. Though we have lost 15 millions during collectivization, we are still numerous. 
You can't care about everyone, and nobody would even think about it. 

Sometimes, when such a team of Jewish inmates smoothly bands together and, being no 
longer impeded by the ferocious struggle for survival, they can engage in extraordinary 
activities. An engineer named Abram Zisman tells us: "In Novo-Archangelsk camp, in our 
spare time, [we] decided to count how many Jewish pogroms occurred over the course of 
Russian history. We managed to excite the curiosity of our camp command on this question 
(they had a peaceful attitude toward us). JheNachlag [camp commander] was captain 
Gremin (N. Gershel, a Jew, son of a tailor from Zhlobin). He sent an inquiry to the archives of 
the former Interior Department requesting the necessary information, and after eight 


months we received an official reply that ... 76 Jewish pogroms occurred from 1811 to 1917 
on the territory of Russia with the number of victims estimated at approximately 3,000" 
(That is, the total number of those who suffered in anyway.) The author reminds us 
that during one six-month period in medieval Spain more than twenty thousand Jews were 
killed (5). 

A plot-like atmosphere emanates from the recollections of Josef Berger, a communist, about 
a highly-placed snitch Lev llyich Inzhir. A former Menshevik, arrested in 1930, he 
immediately began collaborating with the GPU, fearing reprisals against his family and the 
loss of his apartment in the center of Moscow. He "helped to prepare the Menshevik trial" 
of 1931, falsely testified against his bestfriends, was absolved and immediately appointed as 
a chief accountant of Belomorstroi. During the Yezhovschina he was a chief accountant of 
the GULag "enjoying the complete trust of his superiors and with connections to the very top 
NKVD officials". (Inzhir recalled one "Jewish NKVD veteran who interlarded his words with 
aphorisms from Talmud".) He was arrested later again, this time on the wave of anti-Yezhov 
purges. However, Inzhir' s former colleagues from the GULag favorably arranged his 
imprisonment. However, atthis point he turned into an explicit "snitch and provocateur", 
and other inmates suspected that the plentiful parcels he was receiving were not from his 
relatives but directly from the Third Department. Nevertheless, later in 1953 in the Tayshet 
camp, he was sentenced to an additional jail term, this time being accused of Trotskyism and 
of concealing his "sympathies for the State of Israel" from the Third Department (6). 

Of worldwide infamy, BelBallag absorbed hundreds of thousands of Russian, Ukrainian and 
Middle Asian peasants between 1931 and 1932. Opening a newspaper issue from August, 
1933, dedicated to the completion of the canal [between White and Baltic seas], we find a 
list of awardees. Lower ranking orders and medals were awarded to concreters, steelfixers, 
etc, but the highest degree of decoration, the Order of Lenin, was awarded to eight men 
only, and we can see large photographs of each. Only two of them were actual engineers, 
the rest were the chief commanders of the canal (according to Stalin's understanding of 
personal contribution). And whom do we see here? Genrikh Yagoda, head of NKVD. Matvei 
Berman, head of GULag. Semen Firin, commander of BelBaltlag (by thattime he was already 
the commander of Dmitlag, where the story will later repeat itself). Lazar Kogan, head of 
construction (later he will serve the same function at Volgocanal). Jacob Rapoport, deputy 
head of construction. Nafta ly Frenkel, chief manager of the labor force of Belomorstroi (and 
the evil demon of the whole Archipelago) (7). 

And all their portraits were enlarged and reprinted again in the solemnly shameful 
book Belomorcanal (8) - a book of huge Scriptural size, like some revelation anticipating 
advent of the Millenarian Kingdom. 

And then I reproduced these six portraits of villains in Archipelago, borrowing them from 
their own exhibition and without any prior editing, showing everybody who was originally 
displayed. Oh my God, what a worldwide rage has surged! How dared I?! This is anti- 
Semitism! lama branded and screwed anti-Semite. At best, to reproduce these portraits 
was "national egotism" - i.e. Russian egotism! And they dared to say it despite what follows 
immediately on the next pages of Archipelago: how docilely "Kulak" lads were freezing to 
death under their barrows. 


One wonders, where were their eyes in 1933 when it was printed for the very first 
time? Why weren't they so indignant then? 

Let me repeat what I professed once to the Bolsheviks: one should be ashamed of hideosity 
not when it is disclosed to public but when it is done. 

A particular conundrum exists with respect to the personality of Naftaly Frenkel, that tireless 
demon of Archipelago: how to explain his strange return from Turkey in 1920's? He 
successfully got away from Russia with all his capitals afterthe first harbingers of revolution. 
In Turkey, he attained a secure, rich and unconstrained social standing, and he never 
harbored any Communist ideas. And yet he returned? To come back and become a toy for 
the GPU and for Stalin, to spend several years in imprisonment himself, but in return to 
accomplish the most ruthless oppression of imprisoned engineers and the extermination of 
hundreds of thousands of the "de-Kulakized"? What could have motivated his insatiable evil 
heart? I am unable to imagine any possible reason except vengeance toward Russia. If 
anyone can provide an alternative explanation, please do so (9). 

What else could be revealed by someone with a thorough understanding of the structure of 
the camp command? The head of 1st Department of Belomorstroi was one Wolf; the head of 
the Dmitrov section of Volgocanal was Bovs hover. The finance division of Belomorstroi was 
headed by L. Berenzon, his deputies were A. Dorfman, the already mentioned Inzhir, 
Loevetsky, Kagner, Angert. And how many of the other humbler posts remain unmentioned? 
Is it really reasonable to suppose that Jews were digging soil with shovels and racing their 
hand-barrows and dying under those barrows from exhaustion and emaciation? Well, view it 
as you wish. A. P. Skripnikova and D. P. Vitkovsky, who were there, told me that Jews were 
ove represented among Idiots during construction of Belomorcanal, and they did not roll 
barrows and did not die under them. 

And you could find highly-placed Jewish commanders not only at BelBaltlag. Construction of 
the Kotlas-Vorkuta railroad was headed by Moroz (his son married Svetlana Stalina); the 
special officer-in-charge of GULag in the Far East was Grach. These are only a few of the 
names, which resurfaced accidentally. If a former inmate Thomas Sgovio, an American 
national, didn't write to me, I wouldn't be aware about the head of the Chai-Uryinsk Mining 
Administration on Kolyma between 1943-44 (at the depths of the Patriotic War): "Half- 
colonel Arm was a tall black-haired Jew with a terrible reputation... His orderly man was 
selling ethanol to everybody, 50 grams for 50 rubles. Arm had his own personal tutor of 
English -a young American, arrested in Karelia. His wife was paid a salary for an 
accountant's position, but she didn't work - her job was actually performed by an inmate in 
the office" (a common practice revealing how families of GULag commanders used to have 
additional incomes). 

Or take another case: during the age of glosnost, one Soviet newspaper published a story 
about the dreadful GULag administration that built a tunnel between Sakhalin and the 
mainland. It was called the "Trust of Arais" (10). Who was that comrade Arais? I have no idea. 
But how many perished in his mines and in the unfinished tunnel? 

Sure, I knew a number of Jews (they were my friends) who carried all the hardships of 
common labor. In Archipelago, I described a young man, Boris Gammerov, who quickly 


found his death in the camp. (While his friend, the writer Ingal, was made an accountant 
from the very first day in the camp, although his knowledge of arithmetic was very poor.) I 
knew Volodya Gershuni, an irreconcilable and incorruptible man. I knew Jog Masamed, who 
did common labor in the hard labor camp at Ekibastuz on principle, though he was called 
upon to join the Idiots. Besides, I would like to list here a teacher Tatyana Moiseevna Falike, 
who spent 10 years drudging, she said, like a beast of burden. And I also would like to name 
here a geneticist Vladimir Efroimson, who spent 13 out of his 36 months of imprisonment 
(one out of his two terms) doing common labor. He also did it on principle, though he also 
had better options. Relying on parcels from home (one cannot blame him for that), he 
picked the hand-barrow precisely because there were many Jews from Moscow in that 
Jezkazgan camp, and they were used to settling well, while Efroimson wanted to dispel any 
grudge toward Jews, which was naturally emerging among inmates. And what did his 
brigade think about his behavior? - "He is a black sheep among Jews; would a real Jew roll a 
barrow?" He was similarly ridiculed by Jewish Idiots who felt annoyed that he "flaunted 
himself" to reproach them. In the same vein, another Jew, Jacov Davydovich Grodzensky, 
who also beavered in the common category, was judged by others: "Is he really a Jew?" 

It is so symbolic! Both Efroimson and Grodzenskiy did those right and best things, which 
could be only motivated by the noblest of Jewish appeals, to honestly share the common lot, 
and they were not understood by either side! They are always difficult and derided - the 
paths of austerity and dedication, the only ones that can save humanity. 

I try not to overlook such examples, because all my hopes depend on them. 

Let's add here a valiant Gersh Keller, one of the leaders of Kengir uprising in 1954 (he was 30 
years old when executed). I also read about Yitzhak Kaganov, commander of an artillery 
squadron during the Soviet-German war. In 1948, he was sentenced to 25 years for Zionism. 
During 7 years of imprisonment he wrote 480 pieces of poetry in Hebrew, which he 
memorized without writing them down (11). 

During his third trial (July 10, 1978), after already serving two terms, Alexander Ginsburg, 
was asked a question "What is your nationality?" and replied: "Inmate!" That was a worthy 
and serious response, and it angered the tribunal. But he deserved it for his work for the 
Russian Public Relief Fund, which provided assistance to families of political prisoners of all 
nationalities, and by his manly vocation. This is what we are - a genuine breed of prisoners, 
regardless of nationality. 

However, my camps were different, - spanning from the "great" Belomor to the tiny 121st 
camp district of the 15th OLP of Moscow's UITLK (which left behind a not inconspicuous 
semi-circular building at Kaluga's gate in Moscow). Out there, our entire life was directed 
and trampled by three leading Idiots: Solomon Solomonov, a chief accountant; David 
Burstein, first an "educator" and later a work-assigning clerk; and Isaac Bershader. (Earlier, in 
exactly the same way, Solomonov and Bershader ruled over the camp at the Moscow 
Highway Institute, MHI.) Note that all this happened under auspices of a Russian camp 
commander, one ensign Mironov. 

All three of them came up before my eyes, and to get positions for them, in each case their 
Russian predecessors were instantly removed from the posts. Solomonov was sent in first; 


he confidently seized a proper position and quickly got on the right side of the ensign. (I 
think, using food and money from outside.) Soon after that the wretched Bershaderwas 
sent in from MHI with an accompanying note "to use him only in the common labor category" 
(a quite unusual situation for a domestic criminal, which probably meant substantial 
delinquency). He was about fifty years old, short, fat, with a baleful glare. He walked 
around condescendingly inspecting our living quarters, with the look of a general from the 
head department. 

The senior proctor asked him: "What is your specialty?" - "Storekeeper". - "There is no such 
specialty" - "Well, I am a storekeeper". - "Anyway, you are going to work in the common 
labor brigade". For two days he was sent there. Shrugging his shoulders, he went out, and, 
upon entering the work zone, he used to seat himself on a stone and rest respectably. The 
brigadier would have hit him, but he quailed - the newcomer was so self-confident, that 
anyone could sense power behind him. The camp's storekeeper, Sevastyanov, was 
depressed as well. For two years he was in charge of the combined provision and sundry 
store. He was firmly established and lived on good terms with the brass, but now he was 
chilled: everything is already settled! Bershader is a "storekeeper by specialty"! 

Then the medical unit discharged Bershader from the labor duties on grounds of "poor 
health" and after that he rested in the living quarters. Meanwhile, he probably got 
something from outside. And within less than a week Sevastyanov was removed from his 
post, and Bershaderwas made a storekeeper (with the assistance of Solomonov). However, 
at this point it was found that the physical labor of pouring grain and rearranging boots, 
which was done by Sevastyanov single-handedly, was also contraindicated for Bershader. So 
he was given a henchman, and Solomonov' s bookkeeping office enlisted the latter as service 
personnel. But it was still not a sufficiently abundant life. The best looking proudest woman 
of the camp, the swan-like lieutenant-sniper M. was bent to his will and forced to visit him in 
his store-room in the evenings. After Burstein showed himself in the camp, he arranged to 
have another camp beauty, A. S., to come to his cubicle. 

Is it difficult to read this? But they were by no means troubled how it looked from outside. It 
even seemed as if they thickened the impression on purpose. And how many such little 
camps with similarestablishments were there all across the Archipelago? 

And did Russian Idiots behave in the same way, unrestrained and insanely!? Yes. But within 
every other nation it was perceived socially, like an eternal strain between rich and poor, 
lord and servant. However, when an alien emerges as a "master over life and death" it 
further adds to the heavy resentment. It might appear strange - isn't it all the same for a 
worthless negligible, crushed, and doomed camp dweller surviving at one of his dying 
stages? isn't it all the same who exactly seizes the power inside the camp and celebrates 
crow's picnics over his trench-grave? As it turns out, it is not. These things have been etched 
into my memory inerasably. 

In my play Republic of Labor, I presented some of the events that happened in that camp on 
Bolshaya Kaluzhskaya 30. Understanding the impossibility of depicting everything like it was 
in reality, because it would be inevitably considered as incitement of anti-Jewish sentiment 
(as if that trio of Jews was not inflaming it in real life, caring little about consequences) I 
withheld the abominably greedy Bershader. I concealed Burstein. I recomposed the profiteer 


Rosa Kalikman into an amorphous Bella of eastern origin, and retained the only Jew, 
accountant Solomonov, exactly like he was in life. 

So, what about my loyal Jewish friends after they perused the play? The play aroused 
extraordinarily passionate protests from V. L. Teush. He read it not immediately but when 
Sovremennik had already decided to stage it in 1962, so the question was far from schola rly. 
The Teushes were deeply injured by the figure of Solomonov. They thought it was dishonest 
and unjust to show such a Jew (despite that in the real life, in the camp, he was exactly as I 
showed him) in the age of oppression of Jews. (But then, it appears to me that such age 
is everlasting? When have our Jews not been oppressed?) Teush was alarmed and extremely 
agitated, and put forward an ultimatum that if I did not remove or at least soften up the 
image of Solomonov, then all our friendship will be ruined and he and his wife will no longer 
be able to keep my manuscripts. Moreover, they prophesized that my very name will be 
irretrievably lost and blemished if I leave Solomonov in the play. Why not to make him a 
Russian?They were astonished. Is it so important that he be a Jew? (But if it doesn't matter, 
why did Solomonov select Jews to be Idiots?) 

I took a chill pill: a sudden censorial ban, no less weighty than the official Soviet prohibition, 
had emerged from an unanticipated direction. However, the situation was soon resolved by 
the official prohibition forbidding Sovremennik to stage the piece. 

And there was another objection from Teush: "Your Solomonov has anything but Jewish 
personality. A Jew always behaves discreetly, cautiously, suppliantly, and even cunningly, but 
from where comes this pushy impudence of jubilant force? This is not true, it cannot happen 
like this!" 

However, I remember not this Solomonov alone, and it was exactly like that! I saw many 
things in the 1920's and 1930's in Rostov-on-Don. And Frenkel acted similarly, according to 
the recollections of surviving engineers. Such a slip of a triumphant power into insolence and 
arrogance is the most repelling thing for those around. Sure, it is usually behavior of the 
worst and rudest - but this is what becomes imprinted in memory. (Likewise the Russian 
image is soiled by the obscenities of our villains.) 

All these blandishments and appeals to avoid writing about the things like they were -are 
undistinguishablefrom what we heard from the highest Soviet tribunes: about anti- 
defamation, about socialist realism -to write like it should be, not like it was. 

As ifa creator is capable of forgetting or creating hispastanew! As if the fulltruth can be 
written in parts, including only what is pleasing, secure and popular. 

And how meticulously all the Jewish characters in my books were analyzed with every 
personal feature weighted on apothecary scales. But the astonishing story of Grigory M., 
who did not deliver the order to retreat to a dying regiment because he was frightened 
(Archipelago GULag, v. 6, Ch. 6) - was not noticed. It was passed over without a single word! 
And Ivan Denisovich added insult to injury: there were such sophisticated sufferers but I put 
forward a boor! 


For instance, during Gorbachev's glasnost, emboldened Asir Sandler published his camp 
memoirs. "After first perusal, I emphatically rejected One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich... 
the main personage was Ivan Denisovich, a man with minimal spiritual needs, focused only 
on his mundane troubles" -and Solzhenitsyn turned him into the national image... (Exactly 
like all well-meaning communists were grumbling at that time!) While "[Solzhenitsyn] 
preferred not to notice the true intelligentsia, the determinant of domestic culture and 
science". Sandler was discussing this with Miron Markovich Etlis (both used to be Idiots in 
medical unit). And Etlis added: "The story is significantly distorted, placed upside down". 
"Solzhenitsyn failed to emphasize ...the intelligent part of our contingent"... Self-centered 
reflections [of Ivan Denisovich] about himself... that patience... that pseudo-Christian 
attitude toward others". And in 1964 Sandler was lucky to relieve his feelings in conversation 
with Ehrenburg himself. And the latter affirmatively nodded when Sandler mentioned his 
"extremely negative" feeling toward my novelette (12). 

However, not a single Jew reproached me that Ivan Denisovich, in essence, attends to Cesar 
Markovich as a servant, albeit with good feelings. 


I CewieH Eaflaw. Koyibiwia Tbi moa, Ko;ibiMa... New York: Effect Publishing Inc.. 1986, c. 65-66. 

2B./lew\nopT. 3nnv\ncb\ cyflb6bi // Bpewta m mm: Me>KflyHapoflHbiM wypnan ^MTepaTypbi m o6mecTBeHHbix 
npo6^ew\. Hbio-MopK, 1991, N2 113. c. 168. 

3 f\. BopoHenb. TpeneT nyfleMCKMX 3a6oT. 2-e M3fl. PawiaT-raH: MocKBa-MepycayiMM, 1981, c. 28-29. 

4 Muxan^ XeM4>eu,. MecTO m Bpewifl (eBpeMCKne 3aw\eTKn). Ha punc TpeTbfl BO^Ha, 1978, c. 93. 

5 A. 3ncw\aH. «KHnra o pyccKOM eBpeticTBe» // HoBaa 3a pa, CaH-OpaHU,MCKO, 1960, 7 Man, c. 3. 

6 Mocucf) Beprep. Kpywem-ie noKcneHMa: BocnowiMHa hma / llep. c am\n. Firenze: Edizioni Aurora. 1973, c. 148- 

7 M3BecTMJi, 1933. 5 aBrycTa, c. 1-2. 

8 EenoMopcKO-EayiTMMCKMM KaHa.n nwieHM CTa^MHa: McTopua CTp o MTeyi bCTBa / riofl pefl. M. ropbKoro, 
ABep6axa. CI". OupuHa. [M.]: McTopua cJ)a6pnKM 3aBOflOB, 1934. 

9 noflpo6Hee o OpeHKeyie — b «Apxnne.nare rv/lare». 

10 T. MnpoHOBa. TyHHe^b b npoiunoe // KoMCOMO^bCKaa npaBfla, 1989, 18 anpeyia, c. 1. 

II PoccMMCKaa EBpeMCKaa 3HU,MK^oneflHfl. 2-e M3fl., ncnp. m flon. M.. 1994. T. 1, c. 526-527; 1995. T. 2. c. 27. 

12 Acup CaHfl^ep. Y3enKM Ha nawiflTb: 3anncKM pea6n^MTnpoBaHHoro. MaraflaHCKoe khm>kh. M3fl-BO. 1988, c. 
22. 62-64. 


Chapter 21: During the Soviet-German War 

After Kristallnacht (November 1938) the German Jews lost their last illusions about the 
mortal danger they were facing. With Hitler's campaign in Poland, the deadly storm headed 
East. Yet nobody expected that the beginning of the Soviet-German War would move Nazi 
politics to a new level, toward total physical extermination of Jews. 

While they naturally expected all kinds of hardship from the German conquest, Soviet Jews 
could not envision the indiscriminate mass killings of men and women of all ages - one 
cannot foresee such things. Thus the terrible and inescapable fate befell those who 
remained in the German-occupied territories without a chance to resist. Lives ended 
abruptly. But before their death, they had to pass through either initial forced relocation to a 
Jewish ghetto, or a forced labor camp, or to gas vans, or through digging one's own grave 
and stripping before execution. 

The Russian Jewish Encyclopedia gives many names of the Russian Jews who fell victims to 
the Jewish Catastrophe; it names those who perished in Rostov, Simferopol, Odessa, Minsk, 
Belostok, Kaunas, and Narva. There were prominent people among them. The famous 
historian S.M. Dubnov spent the entire inter-war period in exile. He left Berlin for Riga after 
Hitler took power. He was arrested during the German occupation and placed in a ghetto; 
"in December 1941 he was included into a column of those to be executed" ."From Vilna, 
historian Dina Joffe and director of the Jewish Gymnasium Joseph Yashunskiy were sent to 
concentration camps (both were killed in Treblinka in 1943). Rabbi Shmuel Bespalov, head of 
the Hasidim movement in Bobruisk, was shot in 1941 when the city was captured by the 
Germans. Cantor Gershon Sirota, whose performance had once "caught the attention of 
Nicholas II" and who performed yearly in St. Petersburg and Moscow, died in 1941 in 
Warsaw. There were two brothers Paul and Vladimir Mintz: Paul, the elder, was a prominent 
Latvian politician, "the onlyJewinthe government of Latvia". Vladimir was a surgeon, who 
had been entrusted with the treatment of Lenin in 1918 after the assassination attempt. 
From 1920 he lived in Latvia. In 1940 the Soviet occupation authorities arrested Paul Mintz 
and placed him in a camp in Krasnoyarsk Krai, where he died early on. The younger brother 
lived in Riga and was not touched. He died in 1945 at Buchenwald. Sabina Shpilreyn, a doctor 
of medicine, psychoanalyst and a close colleague of Carl Jung, returned to Russia in 1923 
after working in clinics in Zurich, Munich, Berlin and Geneva;in 1942 she was shot along with 
other Jews by Germans in her native Rostov-on-Don. (In Chapter 19, we wrote about the 
deaths of her three scientist brothers during Stalin's terror.) 

Yet many were saved from death by evacuation in 1941 and 1942. Various Jewish wartime 
and postwar sources do not doubt the dynamism of this evacuation. For example, in The 
Jewish World, a book written in 1944, one can read: "The Soviet authorities were fully aware 
that the Jews were the most endangered part of the population, and despite the acute 
military needs in transport, thousands of trains were provided for their evacuation. ... In 
many cities ... Jews were evacuated first", although the author believes that the statement of 
the Jewish writer David Bergelson that "approximately 80% of Jews were successfully 
evacuated" 1 is an exaggeration. Bergelson wrote: "In Chernigov, the pre-war Jewish 
population was estimated at 70,000 people and only 10,000 of them remained by the time 
the Germans arrived. ... In Dnepropetrovsk, out of the original Jewish population of 100,000 


only 30,000 remained when the Germans took the city. In Zhitomir, out of 50,000 Jews, no 
less than 44,000 left." 2 In the Summer 1946 issue of the bulletin, Hayasa E.M. Kulisher 
wrote: "There is no doubt that the Soviet authorities took special measures to evacuate the 
Jewish population or to facilitate its unassisted flight. Along with the state personnel and 
industrial workers, Jews were given priority [in the evacuation] ... The Soviet authorities 
provided thousands of trains specifically forthe evacuation of Jews." 3 Also, as a safer 
measure to avoid bombing raids, Jews were evacuated by thousands of haywagons, taken 
from kolkhozes and sovkhozes [collective farms] and driven over to railway junctions in the 
rear. B.T. Goldberg, a son-in-law of Sholem Aleichem and then a correspondent for the 
Jewish newspaper Der Tog from New York, after a 1946-1947 winter trip to the Soviet Union 
wrote an article about the wartime evacuation of Jews {Der Tog, February 21, 1947). His 
sources in Ukraine, "Jews and Christians, the military and evacuees, all stated that the policy 
of the authorities was to give the Jews a preference during evacuation, to save as many of 
them as possible so that the Nazis would not destroy them." 4 And Moshe Kaganovich, a 
former Soviet partisan, in his by then foreign memoirs (1948) confirms that the Soviet 
government provided forthe evacuation of Jews all available vehicles in addition to trains, 
including trains of haywagons - and the orders were to evacuate "first and foremost the 
citizens of Jewish nationality from the areas threatened by the enemy". (Note that S. 
Schwartz and later researchers dispute the existence of such orders, as well as the general 
policy of Soviet authorities to evacuate Jews "as such." 5 ) 

Nevertheless, both earlier and later sources provide fairly consistent estimates of the 
number of Jews who were evacuated or fled without assistance from the German-occupied 
territories. Official Soviet figures are not available; all researchers complain that the 
contemporaneous statistics are at best approximate. Let us rely then on the works of the last 
decade. A demographer M. Kupovetskiy, who used formerly unavailable archival materials 
and novel techniques of analysis, offers the following assessment. According to the 1939 
census, 3,028,538 Jews lived in the USSR within its old (that is, pre-1939-1940) boundaries. 
With some corrections to this figure and taking into account the rate of natural increase of 
the Jewish population from September 1939 to June 1941 (he analyzed each territory 
separately), this researcher suggests that at the outbreak of the war approximately 
3,080,000 Jews resided within the old USSR borders. Of these, 900,000 resided in the 
territories which would not be occupied by Germans, and at the beginning of the war 2,180, 
000 Jews ("Eastern Jews") 6 resided in the territories later occupied by the Germans. "There 
is no exact data regarding the number of Jews who fled or were evacuated to the East 
before the German occupation. Though based on some studies we know that 
approximately 1,000,000 -1,100,000 Jews managed to escape from the Eastern regions later 
occupied by Germans". 7 

There was a different situation in the territories incorporated into the Soviet Union only in 
1939-1940, and which were rapidly captured by the Germans at the start of the "Blitzkreig". 
The lightning-speed German attack allowed almost no chance for escape; meanwhile the 
Jewish population of these "buffer" zones numbered 1,885,000 ("Western Jews") in June 
1941. 8 And "only a small number of these Jews managed to escape or were evacuated. It is 
believed that the number is ... about 10-12 percent." 9 


Thus, within the new borders of the USSR, by the most optimistic assessments, 
approximately 2,226,000 Jews (2,000,000 Eastern, 226,000 Western Jews) escaped the 
German occupation and 2,739,000 Jews (1,080,000 Easterners and 1,659,000 Westerners) 
remained in the occupied territories. 

Evacuees and refugees from the occupied and threatened territories were sent deep into the 
rear, "with the majority of Jews resettled beyond the Ural Mountains, in particular in 
Western Siberia and also in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan". 10 The materials of 
the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (EAK) contain the following statement: "At the beginning 
of the Patriotic War about one and half million Jews were evacuated to Uzbekistan, 
Kazakhstan and other Central Asian Republics." 11 This figure does not include the Volga, the 
Ural and the Siberian regions. (However, the Jewish Encyclopedia argues that "a 1,500,000 
figure" is a great exaggeration." 12 ) Still, there was no organized evacuation into Birobidzhan, 
and no individual refugees relocated there, although, because of the collapse of Jewish 
kolkhozes, the vacated housing there could accommodate up to 11,000 families. 13 At the 
same time, "the Jewish colonists in the Crimea were evacuated so much ahead of time that 
they were able to take with them all livestockand farm implements"; moreover, "it is well- 
known that in the spring of 1942, Jewish colonists from Ukraine established kolkhozes in the 
Volga region" How? Well, the author calls it the "irony of Nemesis": they were installed in 
place of German colonists who were exiled from the German Republic of the Volga by Soviet 
government order starting on August 28, 1941. 14 

As already noted, all the cited wartime and postwar sources agree in recognizing the energy 
and the scale of the organized evacuation of Jews from the advancing German army. But the 
later sources, from the end of the 1940s, began to challenge this. For example, we read in a 
1960s source: "a planned evacuation of Jews as the most endangered part of the population 
did not take place anywhere in Russia" (italicized as in the source). 15 And twenty years later 
we read this: after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, "contrary to the rumors that 
the government allegedly evacuated Jews from the areas under imminent threat of German 
occupation, no such measures had ever taken place. ... the Jews were abandoned to their 
fate. When applied to the citizen of Jewish nationality, the celebrated 'proletarian 
internationalism' was a dead letter". 16 This statement is completely unfair. 

Still, even those Jewish writers, who deny the "beneficence" of the government with respect 
to Jewish evacuation, do recognize its magnitude. "Due to the specific social structure of the 
Jewish population, the percentage of Jews among the evacuees should have been much 
higher than the percentage of Jews in the urban population". 17 And indeed it was. The 
Evacuation Council was established on June 24, 1941, just two days after the German 
invasion (Shvernik was the chairman and Kosygin and Pervukhin were his deputies) .Its 
priorities were announced as the following: to evacuate first and foremost the state and 
party agencies with personnel, industries, and raw materials along with the workers of 
evacuated plants and their families, and young people of conscription age. Between the 
beginning of the war and November 1941, around 12 million people were evacuated from 
the threatened areas to the rear. 18 This number included, as we have seen, 1,000,000 to 
1,100,000 Eastern Jews and more than 200,000 Western Jews from the soon-to-be-occupied 
areas. In addition, we must add to this figure a substantial number of Jews among the 
people evacuated from the cities and regions of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist 


Republic (RSFSR, that is, Russia proper) that never fell to the Germans (in particular, those 
from Moscow and Leningrad). Solomon Schwartz states: "The general evacuation of state 
agencies and industrial enterprises with a significant portion of their staff (often with 
families) was in many places very extensive. Thanks to the social structure of Ukrainian 
Jewry with a significant percentages of Jews among the middle and top civil servants, 
including the academic and technical intelligentsia and the substantial proportion of Jewish 
workers in Ukrainian heavy industry, the share of Jews among the evacuees was larger than 
their share in the urban (and even more than in the total) population." 19 

The same was true for Byelorussia. In the 1920s and early 1930s it was almost exclusively 
Jews, both young and old, who studied at "various courses, literacy classes, in day schools, 
evening schools and shift schools. ... This enabled the p